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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Rituximab (Rituxan®)


Brand Name: Rituxan®

Rituximab is used for the treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Rituximab is a biologic agent, also known as targeted therapy. More specifically, rituximab belongs in a class of medications called biologic antineoplastic agents. In NHL, it works by killing blood cells that have multiplied abnormally. For chronic lymphocytic leukemia, rituximab is combined with fludarabine and cyclophosphamide.

This medication comes as a liquid that is injected into a vein (intravenous). Usually, rituximab is given either once weekly for 4 – 8 weeks or on the first day of each chemotherapy cycle. The exact dosing schedule depends on several factors including how well your body tolerates treatment and what other medications you are taking. Your doctor will recommend the approach that is best for you.

Rituximab side effects

To prevent problematic interactions between rituximab and other drugs, be sure to tell your doctor if you are allergic to any medications, and what other medications and supplements you are currently taking. You should also inform your doctor if you have or ever had a liver tumor, liver kidney disease, hepatitis B, chicken pox, herpes, West Nile virus, cytomegalovirus, or any other infection, including infections that recur periodically. Also tell your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, or if you are breastfeeding. Rituximab should not be taken during breastfeeding.

Possible side effects may include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Heartburn
  • Weight gain
  • Muscle or back pain
  • Flushing
  • Night sweats
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Numbness, burning, or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Runny nose

Some of rituximab’s side effects can be serious. Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Stomach area pain
  • Unusual bruising or bleeding
  • Sore throat, fever, chills, or other signs of infection
  • Chest tightness
  • Joint pain or soreness

Please note that this is not a comprehensive list. Patients may experience additional effects not mentioned above.

At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), your team of cancer experts will explain each of the side effects of rituximab with you in detail, as well as the side effects and expectations of all other medications planned as part of your individualized treatment plan.

Rituximab for cancer treatment

Rituximab is approved by the FDA for the following cancer treatments:

  • In combination with chemotherapy for previously untreated follicular, CD20-positive, B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL)
  • As a single-agent maintenance therapy for patients with follicular, CD20-positive, B-cell NHL who respond completely or partially to initial treatment with rituximab plus chemotherapy
  • As a single agent for low-grade, CD20-positive, B-cell NHL that has not progressed after initial treatment with chemotherapy with cyclophosphamide, vincristine, and prednisone
  • In combination with anthracycline-based chemotherapy for initial treatment of diffuse large B-cell, CD20-positive NHL
  • In combination with fludarabine plus cyclophosphamide for the initial or subsequent treatment of CD20-positive chronic lymphocytic leukemia

At CTCA, our integrative approach to cancer treatment works to fight your disease on all fronts and ensures that you remain at the center of everything we do. We encourage participation from both you and your family to make certain you are comfortable with all decisions made regarding your treatment.

The information provided here is for educational purposes only. In no way should it be considered as offering medical advice. Cancer Treatment Centers of America assumes no responsibility for how this material is used. Please check with a physician if you suspect you are ill. Also note that while Cancer Treatment Centers of America frequently updates its contents, medical information changes rapidly. Therefore, some information may be out of date.