Rituximab kills abnormal blood cells. It is prescribed in response to certain types of lymphoma, a cancer of the white blood cells. This medication can also be used to combat rheumatoid arthritis. It treats cancer by killing abnormal blood cells before they can multiply; it also kills blood cells that cause the immune system to attack the joints in people who have rheumatoid arthritis.
This medication can cause a serious allergic reaction. Patients should be kept in the hospital under observation after getting their first dose of this drug, as the allergic reaction can be fatal within 24 hours if left untreated. Patients should notify a doctor immediately if they have any of the following symptoms following the administration of Rituximab:
- Hives or rashes
- Swelling of the tongue, lips, mouth or throat
- Difficulty breathing
- Inability to swallow
- Dizziness, lightheadness or fainting
- Shortness of breath
- Pounding or irregular heartbeat
Women, people who suffer from heart disease and people who have had leukemia or other immune system cancers are more likely to have this reaction than other patients.