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Brentuximab (Adcetris)

Find out what Brentuximab is, how you have it and other important information about taking this cancer drug.

Brentuximab is a cancer treatment drug. It is also known by its full name brentuximab vedotin and its brand name, Adcetris.

It is a treatment for:

  • Hodgkin lymphoma
  • a type of non Hodgkin lymphoma called anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL)

How it works

Brentuximab is a type of monoclonal antibody. Monoclonal antibodies (MABs) are copies of a single antibody. They are made in the laboratory. Monoclonal antibodies seek out cancer cells by targeting particular proteins on the cell surface.

Brentuximab targets a protein called CD30 that is found on Hodgkin lymphoma and anaplastic large cell lymphoma cells. Brentuximab sticks to the CD30 protein and delivers a drug to the cell. The drug then kills the cell.

How you have it

You have brentuximab into your bloodstream (intravenously).

You can have the drug through a thin short tube (a cannula) that goes into a vein in your arm each time you have treatment.

Or you might have it through a long line: a central line, a PICC line or a portacath.

These are long plastic tubes that give the drug into a large vein in your chest. The tube stays in place throughout the course of treatment.

When you have it

You have brentuximab once every 3 weeks up to 16 times, for as long as it is working. So the course of treatment takes up to 48 weeks (almost one year).

You have the treatment as a drip (infusion) over 30 minutes. 

Tests during treatment

You have blood tests before starting treatment and during your treatment. They check your levels of blood cells and other substances in the blood. They also check how well your liver and kidneys are working.

Side effects

Important information

Other medicines

Cancer drugs can interact with some other medicines and herbal products. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about any medicines you are taking. This includes vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter remedies.

Pregnancy and contraception

This treatment might harm a baby developing in the womb. It is important not to become pregnant or father a child while you are having treatment. You need to use 2 effective methods of contraception during treatment and for 6 months afterwards. Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment.

Fertility

You may not be able to become pregnant or father a child after treatment with this drug. Talk to your doctor before starting treatment if you think you may want to have a baby in the future. Men may be able to store sperm before starting treatment. Women may be able to store eggs or ovarian tissue but this is rare.

Breastfeeding

Don’t breastfeed during this treatment because the drug may come through in your breast milk.

Treatment for other conditions

Always tell other doctors, nurses or dentists that you’re having this treatment if you need treatment for anything else, including teeth problems.

Immunisations

Don’t have immunisations with live vaccines while you’re having treatment and for at least 6 months afterwards.

In the UK, live vaccines include rubella, mumps, measles, BCG, yellow fever and Zostavax (shingles vaccine).

You can:

  • have other vaccines, but they might not give you as much protection as usual
  • have the flu vaccine
  • be in contact with other people who've had live vaccines as injections

Avoid contact with people who’ve had live vaccines taken by mouth (oral vaccines). This includes the rotavirus vaccine given to babies. The virus is in the baby’s urine for up to 2 weeks and can make you ill. So, you mustn't change their nappies for 2 weeks after their vaccination.

You also need to avoid anyone who has had oral polio or typhoid vaccination recently.

Sodium

This drug contains sodium (salt). You might need to take account of this if you are on a controlled sodium diet. Tell your doctor if you are on a low salt diet. 

More information about this treatment

For further information about this treatment go to the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) website.

You can report any side effect you have to the Medicines Health and Regulatory Authority (MHRA) as part of their Yellow Card Scheme.

Last reviewed: 
14 Apr 2015
  • Brentuximab vedotin (Adcetris®) 50 mg powder for concentrate for solution for infusion

    All Wales Medicine Strategy Group, 2015

  • Brentuximab vedotin (Adcetris®) 50mg powder for concentrate for solution for infusion

    Scottish Medicines Consortium, 2014

  • Electronic Medicines Compendium

    Accessed April 2015

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