I am very fortunate to have a caring GP who is also a good friend. Not trusting very much in my non-professional approach to my diagnosis, nor thinking much of my nonchalant attitude, he has done his own research and talked to Australia’s foremost authority on cancer (don’t want to mention names). He assured my GP that I was right to refuse chemotherapy, as my cancer is far more successfully treated with Rituximab, intravenously applied for 4-8 weeks. I have now researched the drug, which – I admit – would be a far better option than chemotherapy. As it seems to be specifically useful to treat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia, it was almost like the carrot tangling in front of my nose to offer me an ‘easy way out’.
The reason I don’t want to jump at this, until I have really looked at all the many fun alternatives (from Cannabis to Frog Poison), are the Side Effects of Rituximab Intravenous:
See also Warning section.
Headache, fever, chills, nausea, heartburn, flushing, weakness, or dizziness may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, contact your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
Many people using this medication have serious side effects. However, your doctor has prescribed this drug because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Careful monitoring by your doctor may decrease your risk.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: back/joint/muscle pain, increased thirst/urination, swelling of the hands/feet, tingling of the hands/feet.
Rituximab sometimes causes side effects due to the rapid destruction of cancer cells (tumor lysis syndrome). To lower your risk, drink plenty of fluids unless your doctor directs you otherwise. Also, your doctor may prescribe an additional medication. Tell your doctor right away if you have symptoms such as: low back/side pain (flank pain), pink/bloody urine, change in the amount of urine, painful urination, muscle spasms/weakness.
This medication can cause a decrease in blood cells (cytopenia), which can cause bleeding problems and lower the body’s ability to fight an infection. This serious side effect can happen days, weeks, or months after your treatment has finished. Notify your doctor promptly if you develop any of the following side effects: easy bleeding/bruising, black/tarry stools, vomit that looks like coffee grounds, signs of an infection (such as fever, chills, persistent sore throat, painful urination).
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.