Precautions and Warnings With Brentuximab Vedotin
If your healthcare provider recommends chemotherapy treatment with brentuximab vedotin, make sure to discuss your complete medical history and current medications, vitamins, and supplements. It is also important that your healthcare provider knows if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, as this drug may be unsafe in these circumstances. Other important precautions for using brentuximab vedotin safely include warnings for people with weakened immune systems.
You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to receiving brentuximab vedotin (Adcetris™) if you have:
- Been taking a chemotherapy medicine called bleomycin
- An infection of any kind
- A weakened immune system due to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), cancer, or any other cause
- Any allergies, including to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
- Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
You should also tell your healthcare provider about all other medications you are taking, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Some warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to receiving this chemotherapy drug include the following:
- Brentuximab vedotin can cause nerve damage, known medically as peripheral neuropathy. In some cases, the nerve damage may be irreversible. Therefore, your healthcare provider will likely recommend you stop using brentuximab vedotin, or lower your dose, if you begin to show signs of peripheral neuropathy, such as numbness, tingling, or burning of the hands or feet, or weakness of the arms or legs.
- Brentuximab vedotin decreases the level of white blood cells in the body, which could increase your risk for potentially serious infections. Your healthcare provider will monitor your blood cell counts before each dose. You may need to skip a dose if your white blood cells are too low, until they return to normal. Also, let your healthcare provider know if you have any signs of infection, such as:
- Sore throat
- Painful urination.
- You will be closely monitored during your infusion to make sure you do not develop a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction (known as an infusion reaction). If you develop an infusion reaction, your infusion will be stopped and your symptoms will be treated. Let your healthcare provider know if you experience any of the following symptoms during or shortly after your infusion:
- Difficulty breathing
- Like other cancer medications, brentuximab vedotin is associated with a condition known as tumor lysis syndrome. Tumor lysis syndrome occurs when the breakdown of dying cancer cells causes metabolic and electrolyte problems, such as low calcium blood levels and high levels of potassium, phosphorus, and uric acid. People with fast-growing tumors or a lot of tumors throughout the body have a higher risk for tumor lysis syndrome. Your healthcare provider will monitor you closely for this condition throughout treatment.
- Brentuximab vedotin may increase your risk for a serious and potentially life-threatening brain infection known as progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). PML is caused by a virus known as the JC virus. It is characterized by damage to the material (myelin) that covers and protects nerves in the brain. Contact your healthcare provider right away if you experience any symptoms of PML, which may include:
- Changes in mood
- Loss of balance or difficulty walking
- Difficulty talking, thinking, or seeing.
- This medicine has been reported to cause a serious skin rash known as Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS). Contact your healthcare provider right away if you notice any skin rash during brentuximab vedotin treatment, as SJS can be fatal.
- Brentuximab vedotin may react with a number of other medications (see Drug Interactions With Brentuximab Vedotin).
- Brentuximab vedotin is a pregnancy Category D medication, which means it may harm an unborn child if used during pregnancy (see Adcetris and Pregnancy).
- It is unknown whether brentuximab vedotin passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to receiving the drug (see Adcetris and Breastfeeding).