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Erbitux Side Effects

In clinical trials, up to 89 percent of people reported itching, peeling, irritation, and dry skin as side effects of Erbitux. Although adverse reactions are expected, they are typically mild and easily treated. Potentially serious problems with this drug include sudden wheezing, difficulty breathing, severe diarrhea, and chest pain. These and other reactions should be reported to a healthcare provider.

An Introduction to Erbitux Side Effects

Just like any medicine, Erbitux® (cetuximab) can cause side effects. Not everyone who uses the medication will have problems. However, most people will experience some type of adverse reaction during treatment. If problems do occur, in most cases, they are minor and either require no treatment or are treated easily by you or your healthcare provider.
(This article covers many, but not all, of the possible side effects with Erbitux. Your healthcare provider can discuss a more complete list with you.)

Common Side Effects With Erbitux

Erbitux has been studied thoroughly in clinical trials. In these studies, the side effects that occurred in a group of people receiving Erbitux were carefully documented and compared to those that occurred in a similar group of people receiving a placebo (an injection with no active ingredients), a different anti-cancer medication, or radiation treatment. As a result, it was possible to see what side effects occurred, how often they appeared, and how they compared to the placebo or other treatments.
In these studies, the most common Erbitux side effects included:
  • Skin reactions, including acne-like rash, itching, irritation, peeling, and dry skin -- up to 89 percent
  • Tiredness -- up to 89 percent
  • Weight loss -- up to 84 percent
  • A general feeling of discomfort -- up to 73 percent
  • Diarrhea -- up to 72 percent
  • Abdominal pain (stomach pain) -- up to 59 percent
  • Weakness -- up to 56 percent
  • Nausea -- up to 55 percent
  • General pain -- up to 51 percent
  • Shortness of breath -- up to 48 percent
  • Constipation -- up to 46 percent.
Other common reactions, occurring in 10 to 44 percent of people, included:
  • Any infection
  • High liver function tests
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Insomnia
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Dehydration
  • Decreased appetite
  • Swelling, ulcers, or sores in the mouth
  • General stomach or intestinal problems
  • Allergic-type reactions while receiving the drug or shortly thereafter
  • Side effects from radiation treatment
  • Pain and swelling of the skin around the toenails or fingernails
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Itching
  • Bone pain
  • Confusion
  • Heartburn or indigestion
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Low levels of blood calcium, potassium, or magnesium
  • Hair loss
  • Dry mouth
  • Infection of the lining of the eyelids (conjunctivitis).
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Erbitux Chemotherapy Information

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