Allergy Asthma Respir Dis.  2022 Jul;10(3):181-185. 10.4168/aard.2022.10.3.181.

A successful shortening of desensitization protocol in a patient with cetuximab anaphylaxis

  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • 2Drug safety Center, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea
  • 3Institute of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Seoul National University Medical Research Center, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea


Desensitization therapy can help overcome severe hypersensitivity reactions and allow continuing administration of the culprit agents. However, this is time- and labor-intensive due to a prolonged infusion time and the serial adjustment of infusion rate between steps. Therefore, simplified protocols using fewer steps have been tested, although currently there is no established standard strategy. Cetuximab plays an important role in the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer. Although cetuximab is well tolerated, severe infusion reactions occur in 1.1% of patients, and most occur within 1 hour of receiving the first dose. Here, we report a recent attempt to shorten the steps of gradual cetuximab desensitization. A 57-year-old male patient diagnosed with obstructive sigmoid colon cancer received cetuximab chemotherapy and experienced immediate anaphylaxis at the first cycle. A one-bag, 17-step desensitization protocol was applied to cetuximab administration. After the first successful desensitization cycle, the process of desensitization was shortened 1–2 step(s) per cycle, down to 2 steps, without a breakthrough reaction. The patient ultimately received regular infusions. Shortening of the rapid desensitization protocol can be considered if the previous cycle is well-tolerated, even in a patient who suffered previous anaphylaxis to cetuximab.


Anaphylaxis; Cetuximab; Desensitization; , Immunologic tolerance
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