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Adverse effects of the humanized antibodies used as cancer therapeutics

Klastersky, Jean

doi: 10.1097/01.cco.0000228734.32261.62
Supportive care

Purpose of review Humanized monoclonal antibodies represent a recent and very significant addition to the anticancer armamentarium. With improved therapeutic strategies due to these agents, however, there are also various, sometimes unexpected, side effects.

Recent findings Most of the monoclonal antibodies used in oncology share a risk of infusion-related manifestations, including the possibility of anaphylaxis; these reactions usually appear early on during the first administration. Hematological toxicity is also frequent, especially if the antibodies are associated with chemotherapy; the resulting neutropenia – and with some agents lymphopenia – is associated with an increased risk of infection. Cardiac failure and pulmonary complications have been reported with some of these agents, especially in patients with prior cardiac or pulmonary comorbidities.

Summary Although consideration of these side effects is important in terms of prevention and therapy, overall they are relatively uncommon, making therapy with monoclonal antibodies quite safe in comparison with other therapeutic modalities used in cancer patients.

Institut Jules Bordet, Tumour Centre Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium

Correspondence to Jean Klastersky, Professor of Medicine, Institut Jules Bordet, Centre des Tumeurs de l'Université Libre de Bruxelles, Rue Héger-Bordet 1, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium Tel: +32 2 541 32 01; fax: +32 2 541 32 02; e-mail:

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.