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Specialist Haematology Services

Rituximab


Introduction Show [+]Hide [-]

This information sheet is offered as a guide to you and your family. Your treatment will be fully explained by your doctor or nurse, who will be happy to answer any questions.

Your Treatment: Your doctor has prescribed for you a treatment known as Rituximab (Mabthera) .
• You will be asked to attend the unit every 2,3 or 4 weeks for this treatment, for up to a minimum of six visits.
• This drug is given as an intravenous injection via a ‘drip’ into a vein in your arm.

Some people can have an allergic reaction to rituximab. To reduce the risk of this the first dose is given slowly over a number of hours. You will be given an antihistamine and steroid injection via the drip as well as paracetomol before the treatment is given in order to help prevent any reaction. If you do have a reaction the infusion can be slowed/ stopped and started again when the symptoms improve.

How long will I be in the department?
• If you experience any reactions, expect to spend several hours in the department. This is most likely with the first treatment.
• Further treatments are given at twice the rate.
• You must wait one hour after completing the treatment before you are able to go home.

Can I bring someone with me?
Yes, you may also wish to bring in some items to pass the time such as books or personal stereos.

Do I need to take any special precautions before I come to the day unit?
You can eat and drink as usual. You can also take any medication that has been prescribed by your GP providing you have told your hospital doctor you are taking this medication. A packed lunch will be provided.

Will I be able to drive home ?
You may feel tired because of the antihistamine as well as the treatment and wish to make other transport arrangements.

Side EffectsShow [+]Hide [-]

As each patient is an individual your experience will be different to other patients receiving rituximab.

• A rare side effect is an allergic reaction. Signs of this include skin rashes and itching, a feeling of swelling in the tongue or throat, irritation of the nasal passages, wheezing, a cough and breathlessness. You will be monitored closely during your treatment, but let your nurse or doctor know if you have any of these symptoms.

Common side effects that you may experience during treatment are:-

• Flu-like symptoms - These can include a high temperature, chills, weakness, muscle aches, tiredness, dizziness and headaches. They can occur while the rituximab is being given.

• Low blood temperature - This may happen during the infusion, so your blood pressure will be regularly checked. People who normally take medication to lower their blood pressure may be advised by the doctor to take these at least 12 hours before the rituximab is given.

• Nausea and vomiting - These are very occasional symptoms. However anti sickness drugs are very effective if necessary. If you experience these problems during treatment please inform your nurse.

• Tumour pain - Mild pain may be experienced in areas where the cancer is situated in the body. Please ask if you require pain relief.

• Flushing - A sudden warmth, redness or darkening of the face is a possible side effect of the treatment, it may happen for a short period of time during the infusion.

Please contact Ward 6b or Ward 8 if you experience any of these symptoms.

• Fatigue
Many people feel tired and have low energy levels whilst undergoing treatment. There is very little you can do to avoid this but research has shown that patients who suffer fatigue need to take gentle exercise and rest often. This feeling of fatigue is quite normal and energy levels will begin to improve once treatment is completed

Contact numbersShow [+]Hide [-]

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your treatment please contact:

  • Ward 6b (Monday – Friday, 8am – 5pm.), tel: 0191 282 4388
  • Ward 8 (Available at all times), tel: 0191 282 5008

Further information

For further information regarding the drugs you receive, contact Macmillan Cancer Support.

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