Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Radiation Therapy With Monoclonal Antibodies
Ibritumomab and tositumomab are available for
intravenous (IV) use. They are administered only under
the supervision of a doctor.
Ibritumomab and tositumomab deliver radiation directly to lymphoma
monoclonal antibodies. Monoclonal antibodies are
substances produced in a lab that bind to cancer cells wherever they are in the
body. Radiation is attached to a monoclonal antibody. The monoclonal antibody
recognizes specific proteins that are found on the surface of some lymphoma
cells. The monoclonal antibody locks onto the protein (like a key in a lock)
and causes the cell to die. The radiation attached to the antibody also kills
lymphoma cells that are nearby.
Ibritumomab is used with another monoclonal antibody medicine
rituximab. Tositumomab is used by itself.
Ibritumomab and tositumomab are used to treat nonaggressive,
non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) that has relapsed or not
responded to other treatments such as chemotherapy.
Ibritumomab and tositumomab are effective treatments for
nonaggressive, low-grade NHL that has relapsed or not responded to other
serious side effects of ibritumomab (Zevalin) have been issued by the U.S. Food
and Drug Administration (FDA). Some of these side effects have been fatal.
These side effects include trouble breathing; closing of the throat; swollen
lips, tongue, or face; heart problems; and severe skin reactions. If you
develop any of these symptoms, contact your doctor
Ibritumomab and tositumomab may cause birth defects. Do not receive
this therapy if you are pregnant or if you wish to become pregnant or father a child
while you are taking these medicines.
Serious side effects of ibritumomab and tositumomab may
Less serious side effects may include:
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference
is not available in all systems.)
Before you receive treatment, your doctor will make sure you are
healthy enough to take ibritumomab or tositumomab. People who have had more
than 25% of their bone marrow replaced or been treated with radiation should
not have this monoclonal antibody therapy.
You will be watched closely after treatment. This includes
imaging scans with a gamma camera to make sure the lymphoma is targeted and the
rest of your body receives safe doses of radiation. Your blood will also be
checked each week with a
complete blood count (CBC) test for at least 10 weeks
after treatment to look for blood disorders.
You will have a radioactive chemical in your body for several days
after treatment. So limit your exposure to other people—especially to
children and pregnant women—for at least 1 week. Use a method of birth control
for 12 months after treatment because of possible effects on your reproductive
organs. Do not breast-feed after receiving treatment. Dispose of bodily wastes,
such as urine, properly because they have traces of radiation.
Ibritumomab and tositumomab have only been approved for use by
adults. There is no specific information about the use of ibritumomab and
tositumomab in children.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
March 29, 2012
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Douglas A. Stewart, MD - Medical Oncology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
Genesis HealthCare System | 1-800-322-4762