Antibody therapies can cause some side effects. In general, the side effects are milder than the side effects of chemotherapy. Most of the side effects from antibody therapy are minor and short-lived, lasting only during the actual treatment and for a few hours afterwards (often referred to as ‘infusion related reactions’).
Sometimes, patients will experience an allergic reaction to the antibody therapy at the time of infusion. Patients are monitored closely during their treatment sessions for signs of allergic reaction, including itching, rash, wheezing and swelling. If these symptoms occur, the treatment is slowed down or stopped for a short time until the symptoms go away. Medications (antihistamines and acetaminophen) are commonly given before treatment to avoid allergic reactions. The chances of experiencing infusion related reactions decrease with each treatment received because the patient adjusts to the treatment and, as treatment continues, there are fewer lymphoma cells to kill.
The most common side effect is:
- Flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, sweating)
Less common side effects include:
- Shortness of breath
- Low blood pressure