Pembrolizumab is used on its own or together with other medicines to treat cancer of the skin, lung, bladder, kidney, uterus, cervix, stomach, and lymph tissue.
This medicine may be used to treat other types of cancer as decided by your doctor.
Pembrolizumab injection is to be given intravenously (into the vein). It is delivered directly into the bloodstream via the blood vessel.
Your doctor or nurse will administer the injection for you.
The dose of this medicine will be decided by your doctor. Your doctor will advise you on the course of your treatment depending on the type and severity of your condition, effectiveness of the therapy, and your tolerability to this medicine.
Ensure that you keep all appointments with your doctor so that you do not miss any doses. Your doctor also needs to regularly monitor your response to Pembrolizumab.
If you miss an appointment or miss an injection, alert your doctor or nurse. A replacement appointment or injection should be given as soon as possible.
Inform your doctor if you have the following conditions:
- autoimmune disease (a condition where the body attacks its cells)
- have had bone marrow transplant that used donor stem cells (allogeneic) or solid organ transplant
- persistent or history of recurring infections
Let your doctor know if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
It is important that you do not get pregnant while being treated with Pembrolizumab. You must use effective contraception during treatment and for at least 4 months after your last dose. You may wish to discuss birth control methods with your doctor or pharmacist.
Avoid breastfeeding during treatment and for 4 months after your final dose of this medicine.
Why is it important to keep my appointments with the doctor?
Keep your appointments with your doctor. Your doctor needs to monitor your condition and check your response to the medication regularly.
- Screening and assessment of tumour status may be needed to check the appropriateness of Pembrolizumab therapy.
- Pregnancy tests must be done before treatment to know if this medicine is suited for you to use.
- You may need to have routine blood tests (e.g. glucose level, complete blood count; liver, kidney and thyroid function).
- Regular monitoring of signs and symptoms of toxicities or adverse reactions may also be needed while you are being treated with this medicine.
Your doctor will advise you about how often you will need to have these tests.
Pembrolizumab may cause any of the following side effects: headache, dizziness, constipation, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, change in taste sensation, dry skin, rash, weakness, muscle pain, dry eye, and difficulty sleeping.
Some side effects may need immediate medical help. Alert your doctor quickly if you experience any of the following:
- rashes with peeling of the skin or blistering of the lips, mouth or eyes accompanied by fever
- confusion, increased thirst, increased hunger, frequent urination, breath that smells like fruit
- blood or mucus in stools, stomach cramping, rectal pain
- yellowing of the skin or eyes, stomach pain, light-coloured stools
- changes in the amount or colour of your urine, unable to pass urine, swelling in the face, feet, or hands
- shortness of breath, cough, tiredness, loss of appetite
- mood or behavioural changes, weight changes, deeper voice, passing out, cold sensation, hair loss, reduced interest in sex
This medicine may cause the level of your red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets to drop.
Red blood cells carry oxygen around your body. A fall in the level of red blood cells may make you feel tired and worn out.
White blood cells help your body to fight infections. A fall in the level of your white blood cells may put you at higher risk for infections, such as coughs, colds and flu, which may lead to more serious infections. Avoid crowded places and people who are sick. Inform your doctor if you have a fever, or a cough or flu that does not go away.
Platelets help your blood to clot when there is a cut in the skin. A fall in the level of your platelets may put you at risk of bleeding more than usual. Do not take part in activities where you may fall or get injured, such as contact sports. Inform your doctor if you get any unusual bruising (large bruises or several bruises, especially if the bruises appeared on their own) or bleeding that takes a long time to stop (for example, too much bleeding when you floss or brush your teeth).
Inform your doctor if any of these side effects do not go away or are severe, or if you experience other side effects.
Inform your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking or using any of these medicines:
- anti-inflammatory medicines e.g. dexamethasone, hydrocortisone
- medicines used in organ transplant or certain immune disorders
Always notify your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any other medicines, including herbal tonics such as traditional Chinese medicines, supplements and medicines that you buy without a prescription.
Store in the refrigerator, between 2-8°C. Do not allow to freeze. If frozen, this medicine will become ineffective and should not be used.
Medicines must not be used past the expiry date.
As this is a cancer medicine, any unused or expired medicine must be returned to the clinic, hospital or pharmacy for disposal.