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Gemtuzumab (Mylotarg)

How does this medicine work?

Gemtuzumab (jem-too-zoo-mab) is a monoclonal antibody combined with a chemotherapy medicine. Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-produced substances that can locate and bind to cancer cells wherever they are in the body. Gemtuzumab binds to some types of leukemia cells and destroys them.

How is the medicine given?

Gemtuzumab is given as a 2-hour infusion through a vein (IV) or venous access device. Pre-medications are given to help prevent side effects during the infusion. Your child will be monitored closely during the infusion.

Are there any precautions about food or other medicines?

Check with the doctor, nurse practitioner, or pharmacist before giving any other prescription or non-prescription medicines, herbs, or vitamins. This includes immunizations.

What are the side effects?


  • fever, chills
  • nausea, vomiting
  • low blood counts
  • decreased potassium in the blood


  • headache
  • mouth sores
  • rash
  • low blood pressure
  • infection
  • change in liver function
  • fatigue (very tired)


  • difficulty breathing
  • allergic-type reaction
  • increased glucose (sugar) in blood

When should I call the clinic?

  • fever, chills
  • cough, hoarseness
  • black, tarry stools
  • blood in urine or stools
  • pinpoint red spots (petechiae) on skin
  • signs of allergic reaction:
  • rash or hives
  • wheezing
  • trouble breathing – call 911

What else do I need to know?

All caregivers should wear gloves when handling urine, stool, and vomit while your child is receiving the chemotherapy and for 48 hours afterward. Urine, stool, and vomit can be safely disposed of in septic tanks and the sewer system.

Any clothing or bed linens that are contaminated with urine, stool, or vomit should be washed separately from other laundry in hot water and detergent. Anyone handling the contaminated laundry should wear gloves.

Blood samples may be needed to check the effects of the gemtuzumab.

Good mouth care will help prevent mouth sores.

You and your child should know the names of all the medicines he or she is taking. Share this information with anyone involved in your child’s care.


This sheet is not specific to your child, but provides general information.  If you have any questions, please call the oncology clinic or pharmacy.

Reviewed 10/2016

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit

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