Rituximab belongs to a group of medicines known as monoclonal antibodies. It is designed to recognize specific proteins that are found on the surface of some lymphoma cells. The monoclonal antibody recognizes the protein and locks onto it (like a key in a lock). This may then trigger the body's immune system to attack and destroy the cancer cells.
Rituximab is an effective treatment for NHL and CLL. It is used in combination with other chemotherapy medicines.
Rituximab can decrease rheumatoid arthritis symptoms such as tender and swollen joints.
Side effects of rituximab are common and may include:
Fever and chills. This is more common within the first 1 to 2 hours of the first infusion.
Swelling of the face, lips, and eyelids (angioedema).
Nausea or vomiting.
In some cases, rituximab has been associated with serious side effects such as breathing difficulty, heart problems, or severe infection. For this reason, the use of rituximab is closely watched.
Rituximab may make heart damage worse in people who already have heart disease. Frequent tests are needed to monitor heart function while this medicine is taken.
In some people who have a history of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, rituximab may cause the virus to begin multiplying again, leading to severe liver problems. These people should have tests to monitor liver function during and for several months following rituximab treatment. Also, people who have a high risk of HBV infection should be screened before starting treatment with rituximab to make sure an HBV infection is not present.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Rituximab may cause birth defects. Do not use this medicine if you are pregnant or if you wish to become pregnant or father a child while you are taking it.
The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.