Alemtuzumab is given
intravenously or as a shot under the skin.
How It Works
Alemtuzumab is a
monoclonal antibody that attaches itself to a protein
called CD52. This protein is found on the surface of some cancer cells,
chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cells. It helps
your immune system see the cancer cell as something that needs to be
Why It Is Used
Alemtuzumab may be used by itself or
in combination with other drugs to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).
Alemtuzumab is sometimes used in
clinical trials to treat other
types of leukemia.
How Well It Works
For people who have CLL and who have
not improved with other chemotherapy drugs such as cyclophosphamide,
fludarabine, or rituximab (or a combination of these), alemtuzumab can be an
Common side effects include:
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug
Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Your doctor may give you
antibiotics to prevent infections for a certain period
of time after your treatment.
Alemtuzumab should be taken only
under the supervision of a
medical oncologist or
hematologist and only at specialized centers that can
recognize and deal with side effects.
Alemtuzumab can cause birth
defects. Do not use this drug if you are pregnant or wish to become pregnant or
to father a child while you are taking it.
Do not use alemtuzumab
if you are breast-feeding. The drug can pass into your breast milk.
Alemtuzumab can interact with many other drugs. Be sure your doctor knows
what prescription and
over-the-counter drugs you are taking.
Use alemtuzumab with caution if you have heart disease. The drug may make
existing heart problems worse.
This drug has been studied for use
only in adults. Its safety and effectiveness have not been established in
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.