Alemtuzumab Injection (Cancer)
What is this medication?
ALEMTUZUMAB (AL em TOOZ oo mab) treats leukemia. It works by blocking a protein that causes cancer cells to grow and multiply. This helps to slow or stop the spread of cancer cells. It is a monoclonal antibody.
This medicine may be used for other purposes; ask your health care provider or pharmacist if you have questions.
COMMON BRAND NAME(S): Campath
What should I tell my care team before I take this medication?
They need to know if you have any of these conditions:
- Immune system problems
- Low blood counts (white cells, platelets, or red blood cells)
- Recent or upcoming vaccine
- An unusual or allergic reaction to alemtuzumab, hamster proteins, other medications, foods, dyes, or preservatives
- Pregnant or trying to get pregnant
How should I use this medication?
This medication is injected into a vein. It is given by your care team in a hospital or clinic setting.
Talk to your care team about the use of this medication in children. Special care may be needed.
Overdosage: If you think you have taken too much of this medicine contact a poison control center or emergency room at once.
NOTE: This medicine is only for you. Do not share this medicine with others.
What if I miss a dose?
Keep appointments for follow-up doses. It is important not to miss your dose. Call your care team if you are unable to keep an appointment.
What may interact with this medication?
- Live virus vaccines
This list may not describe all possible interactions. Give your health care provider a list of all the medicines, herbs, non-prescription drugs, or dietary supplements you use. Also tell them if you smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs. Some items may interact with your medicine.
What should I watch for while using this medication?
Your condition will be monitored carefully while you are receiving this medication.
You may need bloodwork while taking this medication.
This medication can cause serious infusion reactions. To reduce the risk, your care team may give you other medications to take before receiving this one. Be sure to follow the directions from your care team.
This medication may increase your risk of getting an infection. Call your care team for advice if you get a fever, chills, sore throat, or other symptoms of a cold or flu. Do not treat yourself. Try to avoid being around people who are sick.
This medication may increase your risk to bruise or bleed. Call your care team if you notice any unusual bleeding.
Talk to your care team if you or your partner wish to become pregnant or think they might be pregnant. There is a potential for serious side effects to an unborn child. Contraception is recommended while taking this medication and for 3 months after stopping it. Talk to your care team about effective forms of contraception.
Do not breast-feed while taking this medication and for 3 months after stopping it.
This medication may cause infertility. Talk to your care team if you are concerned about your fertility.
What side effects may I notice from receiving this medication?
Side effects that you should report to your care team as soon as possible:
- Allergic reactions—skin rash, itching, hives, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
- Infection—fever, chills, cough, sore throat, wounds that don't heal, pain or trouble when passing urine, general feeling of discomfort or being unwell
- Infusion reactions—chest pain, shortness of breath or trouble breathing, feeling faint or lightheaded
- Low red blood cell level—unusual weakness or fatigue, dizziness, headache, trouble breathing
- Unusual bruising or bleeding
Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your care team if they continue or are bothersome):
- Trouble sleeping
This list may not describe all possible side effects. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Where should I keep my medication?
This medication is given in a hospital or clinic. It will not be stored at home.
NOTE: This sheet is a summary. It may not cover all possible information. If you have questions about this medicine, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider.
Additional Information From Chemocare.com About Alemtuzumab
- Use an electric razor and a soft toothbrush to minimize bleeding.
- Avoid contact sports or activities that could cause injury.
- Wash your hands often.
- Avoid people with any type of infection or who recently have been vaccinated.
- To reduce nausea, take anti-nausea medications as prescribed by your doctor, and eat small, frequent meals.
- To treat mouth sores, use a soft toothbrush, and rinse three times a day with 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of baking soda mixed with 8 oz. of water.
- Avoid sun exposure. Wear SPF 15 (or higher) sunblock and protective clothing.
- Drink two to three quarts of fluid every 24 hours, unless you are instructed otherwise.
- Maintain good nutrition.
- In general, drinking alcoholic beverages should be minimized or avoided. You should discuss this with your doctor.
- If you experience symptoms or side effects, be sure to discuss them with your health care team. They can prescribe medications and/or offer other suggestions that are effective in managing such problems.
When to contact your doctor or health care provider:
Contact your health care provider immediately, day or night, if you should experience the following:
- Fever of 100.4 F (38 C or higher, chills (possible signs of infection).
The following symptoms require medical attention, but are not an emergency. Contact your health care provider within 24 hours after noticing any of the following:
- Vomiting (more than 4-5 episodes within a 24-hour period).
- Nausea that interferes with eating and is not relieved by medications prescribed by your doctor.
- Diarrhea (4 to 6 stools within a 24-hour period).
- Unusual bleeding or bruising.
- Black or tarry stools, or blood in your stools or urine.
- Extreme fatigue (unable to perform self-care activities)
- Pain, redness or swelling at the injection site.