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Monoclonal antibody therapy is a type of treatment for cancer. The antibodies are manmade, or synthetic, forms of immune system proteins. They are given in medicines to attack certain targets on cancer cells. These medicines are not used for everyone with Hodgkin lymphoma. But they may be used in certain cases.
There are 2 of these medicines used to treat Hodgkin lymphoma:
Brentuximab vedotin. This is a monoclonal antibody plus a chemotherapy, or chemo, medicine. The antibody attaches to lymphoma cells in your body. This helps send the chemo medicine directly to your cells. This medicine may help treat Hodgkin lymphoma when other treatments aren’t working.
Rituximab. This medicine attaches to a certain target found on some lymphoma cells. It may be used to treat nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin disease (NLPHD). It may be used alone. Or it may be used with other treatments such as chemo or radiation.
The medicine is given by IV, or intravenously, into your vein. This is often done once every few weeks. The treatment may be done in places such as:
The outpatient clinic of a hospital
At your doctor’s office
A chemotherapy clinic
This treatment can cause an infusion reaction. It’s like an allergic reaction. The reaction may occur while the medicine is being given. Or it may occur just after. It can cause symptoms such as:
Chest tightness and trouble breathing
Low blood pressure
You may be given medicines before your infusion to help lower the risk of these problems. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these symptoms during or soon after your infusion.
Other side effects depend on which medicine is given and other factors.
Brentuximab vedotin can cause side effects such as:
Low blood cell counts
Nausea and vomiting
Rituximab does not often cause serious side effects. But it can raise your risk for infection in the months after treatment. If you have been infected with the hepatitis B virus in the past, the virus may become active again. Your doctor may test your blood for hepatitis B before you start this medicine.
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