Patients who suffer from colon or rectal cancer might be prescribed Cetuximab. Cetuximab is also sometimes used to treat cancer in the head or neck. This drug binds itself to receptors on the surface of cancer cells in order to both stop the cells from growing and alert the immune system to eliminate these cells.
Patients who take this medication to treat head or neck cancer are at increased risk of sudden cardiac arrest. This is especially true if patients have radiation therapy in addition to taking Cetuximab.
Some patients have a severe reaction when the drug is injected. If a patient has difficulty breathing or any other signs of immediate distress, the drug should immediately be discontinued.
Patients may develop an irregular heart rhythm or other symptoms of elevated potassium levels. Patients on this drug should be monitored often to make sure electrolyte levels are appropriate.