What Are the Side Effects of Rituxan?

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The anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody Rituxan is effective in treating patients with certain B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphomas along with a number of other indications.

It does, however, cause a number of side effects. No patient will experience all of the potential side effects of Rituxan; some will experience many, others will experience few.

It is extremely important to notify one's physician or health care team of any side effects upon receiving Rituxan, for some indicate a crisis and require immediate medical attention.

The most immediate and dangerous potential side effect of Rituxan is an allergic reaction.

Potential side effects of Rituxan

  • Blood in urine or painful urination
  • Low back pain
  • Muscle problems: contraction, weakness, tightness
  • Breathing problems, or changes in heart rate
  • Confusion, dizziness, weakness on one side of the body
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea, sweating
  • Flu symptoms such as fever, chills, body aches
  • Bruising easily
  • Earaches, mouth ulcers
  • Skin rashes or skin sores
  • Severe constipation
  • Night sweats

Major side effects

  • Tumor lysis syndrome, a metabolic crisis in which many cancer cells die en masse, flooding the bloodstream with chemicals.
  • Immunosuppression, which makes the patient much more vulnerable to infection than under other circumstances.
  • Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML), a fatal brain virus that has been linked to Rituxan.
  • Hepatitis B reactivation

Infusion reactions, which can be mitigated at the time of infusion

  • Urticaria
  • Hypotension
  • Angioedema
  • Hypoxia
  • Bronchospasm
  • Pulmonary infiltrates
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Ventricular fibrillation
  • Cardiogenic shock

An extensive list of all reported side effects of Rituxan can be found via the manufacturer's website.

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