Find out what panitumumab is, how you have it and other important information about having panitumuab.
What it is
Panitumumab is a targeted cancer drug (biological therapy) and is also known by its brand name, Vectibix.
It is a treatment for bowel cancer that has spread from where it started to another part of the body (advanced bowel cancer). Panitumumab is sometimes combined with other chemotherapy treatments such as FOLFIRI of FOLFOX.
You may also have it in research trials for other types of cancer.
How it works
Panitumumab is a type of biological therapy called a monoclonal antibody. It works by attaching to specific proteins called epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR). This blocks the epidermal growth factor protein from attaching to the cancer cell and triggering it to divide and grow.
Panitumumab works better if your cancer cells have a large number of EGFR. Before having panitumumab you might have a test to check the amount of EGFR your cancer cells have.
Panitumumab only works on cancers that have a normal Kras gene. You will have tests to check if this gene is normal. Panitumuab also helps the immune system to recognise the cancer cells so that it can destroy them.
How you have it
You have panitumumab as a drip into a vein (intravenously).
Into your bloodstream
You have the treatment through a drip into your arm or hand. A nurse puts a small tube (a cannula) into one of your veins and connects the drip to it.
You might need a central line. This is a long plastic tube that gives the drugs into a large vein, either in your chest or through a vein in your arm. It stays in while you’re having treatment, which may be for a few months.
When you have it
You have panitumumab every 2 weeks. The first treatment takes about 60 to 90 minutes. Treatments after that take about 30 to 60 minutes. You usually have panitumumab for a few months or for as long as it is controlling the cancer.
You have blood tests before 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.
Other medicines, foods and drink
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 drug may harm a baby developing in the womb. It is important not to become pregnant or father a child while you are having treatment with this drug and for at least 2 months afterwards.
Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment.
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.
Do not breastfeed during this treatment and for at least 2 months afterwards becausue this drug may come through in the breast milk.
Treatment for other conditions
Always tell other doctors, nurses, pharmacists or dentists that you’re having this treatment if you need treatment for anything else, including teeth problems.
Don’t have immunisations with live vaccines while you’re having treatment and for up to 12 months afterwards. The length of time depends on the treatment you are having. Ask your doctor or pharmacist how long you should avoid live vaccinations.
In the UK, live vaccines include rubella, mumps, measles, BCG, yellow fever and the shingles vaccine (Zostavax).
- have other vaccines, but they might not give you as much protection as usual
- have the flu vaccine (as an injection)
- be in contact with other people who have had live vaccines as injections
Avoid close contact with people who have recently had live vaccines taken by mouth (oral vaccines) such as oral polio or the typhoid vaccine.
This also includes the rotavirus vaccine given to babies. The virus is in the baby’s poo for up to 2 weeks and could make you ill. So avoid changing their nappies for 2 weeks after their vaccination if possible. Or wear disposable gloves and wash your hands well afterwards.
You should also avoid close contact with children who have had the flu vaccine nasal spray if your immune system is severely weakened.
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.