What is monoclonal antibody therapy?
Monoclonal antibody therapy is a type of treatment for cancer known as immunotherapy. Monoclonal antibodies are manmade (synthetic) forms of immune system proteins. They're used to help your immune system attack and kill cancer cells. These medicines are not used for everyone with Hodgkin lymphoma. But they may be used in certain cases.
Possible side effects of monoclonal antibodies
This treatment can cause an infusion reaction. It’s like an allergic reaction. It often happens while the medicine is being given. Or it may occur just after. Symptoms are usually mild and may include:
Rarely, more serious side effects may happen while the medicine is being given. These include:
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. It's very important to tell your healthcare providers about any changes you notice while you're getting treated with monoclonal antibody therapy.
Brentuximab vedotin can cause side effects such as:
Rituximab seldom causes 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 healthcare provider will likely test your blood for hepatitis B before you start this medicine.
Nivolumab and pembrolizumab can cause these side effects:
Because these medicines kill cancer cells by taking the brakes off the immune system, sometimes the immune system starts attacking other parts of the body. This can lead to serious problems with the lungs, kidneys, liver, and other organs.
Working with your healthcare provider
It's important to know which medicines you're taking. Write down the names of your medicines. Ask your healthcare team how they work and what side effects they might cause.
Talk with your healthcare providers about what symptoms to watch for and when to call them. Make sure you know what number to call with questions. Is there a different number for evenings and weekends?
It may be helpful to keep a diary of your side effects. Write down physical, thinking, and emotional changes. A written list will make it easier for you to remember your questions when you go to your appointments. It will also make it easier for you to work with your healthcare team to make a plan to manage your side effects.