Like all medicines, Erbitux can cause side effects, although not everybody gets them.
The main side effects of Erbitux are infusion-related side effects and side effects concerning the skin:
Infusion-related side effects
More than 10 out of 100 patients are likely to experience infusion-related side effects; in more than 1out of 100 patients these side effects are likely to be severe. Such reactions may be allergic in nature.They normally occur during the infusion, within 1 hour afterwards, or sometimes also after this period.
Mild or moderate infusion-related side effects include:
- breathing difficulties If such symptoms occur, please inform your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor may considerreducing the infusion rate of Erbitux to manage these symptoms.
Severe infusion-related side effects include:
- severe breathing difficulties which develop rapidly
- chest pain (a symptom of side effects on your heart) If such symptoms occur, speak to a doctor immediately. These side effects may have seriousconsequences, in rare cases including life-threatening conditions, and require immediate attention.Treatment with Erbitux must then be stopped.
Side effects concerning the skin
More than 80 out of 100 patients are likely to experience side effects involving the skin. In about15 out of 100 patients these skin reactions are likely to be severe. Most of these side effects developwithin the first three weeks of treatment. They usually disappear over time after the end of Erbituxtherapy.
Main side effects concerning the skin include:
- acne-like skin alterations
- dry skin
- excessive growth of hair
- nail disorders, for example inflammation of the nail bed
If you notice extensive skin alterations, please inform your doctor as soon as possible because theErbitux dose or the time between infusions may need to be changed. Your doctor will decide whethertreatment has to be stopped if skin reactions reappear after several dose reductions.
If you notice that already affected areas of your skin get worse, speak to a doctor immediately,especially if you also experience general signs of infection such as fever and tiredness. These signsmay indicate a skin infection, which may have serious consequences including life-threateningconditions.
Other side effectsVery common side effects
(may affect more than 1 user in 10)
- inflammation of the lining of the intestine, mouth, and nose which may lead to nose bleeding insome patients
- decrease in blood levels of magnesium
- increase in blood levels of certain liver enzymes
Common side effects (may affect 1 to 10 users in 100)
- irritation and redness of the eye
- drying out which may be due to diarrhoea or reduced fluid intake
- feeling sick
- loss of appetite, leading to weight decrease
- decrease in blood levels of calcium
Uncommon side effects (may affect 1 to 10 users in 1,000)
- blood clots in the veins of the legs
- blood clots in the lungs
- inflammation of the eye lid or the front part of the eye
Side effects of which the frequency is not known
- inflammation of the lining of the brain (aseptic meningitis)
Side effects in combination with other anticancer treatments
If you receive Erbitux in combination with other anticancer medicines, some of the side effects youmay experience can also be related to the combination or the other medicines. Therefore, please makesure that you also read the package leaflet for the other medicines.
If you receive Erbitux in combination with anticancer medicines including platinum, it is more likelythat your white blood cell count may be reduced. This may lead to infectious complications includinglife-threatening conditions, especially if you experience skin reactions, inflammation of the lining ofthe intestine and mouth or diarrhoea. Therefore, if you experience general signs of infection such asfever and tiredness, please speak to a doctor immediately.
If you receive Erbitux in combination with an anticancer medicine containing fluoropyrimidines, it ismore likely that you experience the following side effects of this other medicine:
- chest pain
- heart attack
- heart failure
- redness and swelling of the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet which may cause the skinto peel (hand-foot syndrome)
If you receive Erbitux with radiation therapy, some of the side effects you may experience can also berelated to this combination, such as:
- inflammation of the lining of the intestine and mouth
- skin reactions typical for radiation therapy
- difficulty in swallowing
- reduction in the number of white blood cells