What is an allergic reaction?
Discover the signs and symptoms of allergic reactions.
Hello, I am nurse Molly. Every day, I work with patients receiving asparaginase therapy for ALL or LBL.
Some patients may experience an allergic reaction to that therapy. The healthcare team may also refer to it as a hypersensitivity reaction.
Both acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL, and lymphoblastic lymphoma, or LBL, are rare cancers of the blood and bone marrow that are most common in children, adolescents, and young adults.
Asparaginase is part of a multiagent therapy for ALL and LBL. Patients with ALL and LBL receive asparaginase therapy derived from E. coli bacteria. Even though it can help fight cancer, it can have unpleasant side effects.
Now let’s talk about:
One, what are allergic reactions to asparaginase therapy?
Two, what are the symptoms of an allergic reaction?
Three, what effect will an allergic reaction have on your cancer treatment?
Four, how are allergic reactions treated?
Five, who should you talk to if you experience an allergic reaction?
Number 1: what are allergic reactions to asparaginase therapy?
During treatment for ALL or LBL, you may experience an allergic reaction to your asparaginase therapy. An allergic reaction is when your body responds to something it doesn't like.
Just like your body may react to dust and pollen, certain foods such as peanuts, or even bee stings, it can also react to medicines meant to treat illness. Asparaginase, which can be derived from E. coli bacteria, can be one of those medicines.
Everyone is unique. Some people have a mild reaction, and some have a worse reaction. As many as 3 out of 10 patients may experience an allergic reaction after E. coli-derived asparaginase therapy.
Number 2: what are the symptoms of an allergic reaction?
Allergic reactions can make people feel sick. Some common symptoms that people with allergic reactions experience are itching, swelling of the mouth or skin, hives, headache, watery eyes, trouble breathing, vomiting, stomach cramps, or drop in blood pressure.
Most reactions to asparaginase happen quickly, but some reactions can occur up to 6 hours later.
Number 3: what effect will an allergic reaction have on your cancer treatment?
Experiencing an allergic reaction can mean that your current asparaginase therapy is not working as it should. Being treated again with the same type of asparaginase therapy that triggered an allergic reaction the first time can cause a similar or even worse response.
Number 4: how are allergic reactions treated?
Seek medical advice immediately if symptoms of an allergic reaction occur.
If you experience an allergic reaction to E. coli-derived asparaginase, your doctor and care team will decide whether to switch to a different type of asparaginase therapy—one that isn’t derived from E. coli. They will determine if switching to a different type can help ensure that your asparaginase therapy works correctly. This change also allows most patients to finish asparaginase therapy as the doctor intended.
A different type of asparaginase therapy derived from Erwinia chrysanthemi can have the same effect on your cancer as asparaginase derived from E. coli. Like E. coli-derived asparaginase, Erwinia-derived asparaginase may cause allergic reactions. Alert the healthcare team immediately if symptoms of an allergic reaction occur.
This different type of asparaginase therapy is short-acting, which means it is given more frequently to help ensure patients can maintain effective levels of asparaginase in their blood.
Number 5: who should you talk to if you experience an allergic reaction?
If you experience symptoms of an allergic reaction, alert your care team immediately and talk about a different type of asparaginase therapy. They can address your questions or concerns and support you in making the best decision for you.