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Is Adcetris a chemotherapy drug?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on Nov 17, 2022.

Official answer


Adcetris is a targeted drug used to treat cancer but is not a traditional chemotherapy. Adcetris is made up of 3 parts:

  • an antibody that finds the protein CD30 on cancer cells
  • an anticancer (chemotherapy) drug (that causes cell death)
  • a “linker”, which attaches the cancer drug to the antibody so the drug can be released inside the cancer cell.

Adcetris combines the antibody and cancer drug, allowing the antibody to direct the drug to a target on lymphoma cancer cells known as CD30. The cancer drug is monomethyl auristatin E (MMAE), which inhibits microtubule polymerization and leads to cell death.

What type of drug is Adcetris?

Adcetris is known as a CD30-directed Antibody Drug conjugate (ADC). It belongs to a group of targeted drug therapies called monoclonal antibodies.

What does Adcetris treat?

Adcetris (brentuximab vedotin) is a prescription drug used in adults and children to treat different types of blood cancers (lymphomas). Adcetris is used to treat certain forms of classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL) and T-cell lymphomas (a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma).

It is given as an intravenous (IV) infusion into your vein. Specifically Adcetris treats:

Classical Hodgkin Lymphoma:

  • Previously untreated Stage 3 or 4 classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL), in combination with doxorubicin, vinblastine, and dacarbazine.
  • Classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL) at high risk of relapse (coming back) or progression (getting worse) after a stem cell transplant.
  • Classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL) after failure of a stem cell transplant OR failure of treatment with at least 2 chemotherapy agents (if you are not a stem cell transplant candidate).
  • Previously untreated high risk classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL) in pediatric patients 2 years and older, in combination with doxorubicin, vincristine, etoposide, prednisone, and cyclophosphamide.

Certain types of T-cell lymphoma:

  • Systemic (throughout the body) anaplastic large cell lymphoma or other untreated peripheral T-cell lymphomas, in combination with cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, and prednisone.
  • Systemic anaplastic large cell lymphoma after failure of at least one chemotherapy regimen with multiple drugs.
  • Primary cutaneous anaplastic large cell lymphoma or CD30- expressing mycosis fungoides (MF) in patients who have been treated with drug therapy that affects the whole body.
  • Adcetris (brentuximab vedotin) prescribing information. Revised 10/2021. Accessed Nov. 18, 2019 at
  • Bradley AM, Devine M, DeRemer D. Brentuximab vedotin: an anti-CD30 antibody-drug conjugate. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2013 Apr 1;70(7):589-97. doi: 10.2146/ajhp110608. PMID: 23515511.

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