Keytruda Uses, Dosage, How it works, Side effects, and Price
What is a Keytruda?
Keytruda (pembrolizumab) injection belongs to a class of medications known as monoclonal antibodies. Keytruda works by helping your immune system control cancer cell growth and spread. As part of its immunotherapy treatment, Keytruda blocks PD-1 (programmed death receptor-1) receptors on cancer cells so they cannot hide from being attacked by your immune system.
Keytruda may be used alone or in combination with other medicines to treat various forms of cancer, such as:
- Skin cancer (melanoma, Merkel cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma);
- lung cancer and Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC);
- head and neck cancer;
- classical Hodgkin lymphoma;
- primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma;
- kidney bladder and urinary tract cancers;
- mes colorectal cancer;
- liver cancer;
- triple-negative breast cancers and cancer of the cervix or uterus are some of the more serious diseases affecting women today;
- Microsatellite instability-high or mismatch repair deficient solid tumors with tumor mutational burden-high (TMB-H) cancer, such as advanced stomach or esophageal cancer;
- locally advanced unresectable or metastatic biliary tract cancer (BTC); or advanced stomach or esophageal cancer can all increase risk.
- Laboratory analysis indicates a specific form of cancer with DNA mutations present.
What conditions is Keytruda being Uses for?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves prescription medications like Keytruda to treat specific medical conditions, but its off-label use can also be utilized for other conditions. Off-label use refers to instances in which a drug approved to treat one condition is instead being utilized against another condition.
Keytruda for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
Keytruda has been approved to treat various types of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the most prevalent form of lung cancer.
Lung cancer can develop from different kinds of cells within your lungs. When non-small cell lung cancer develops from squamous cells (thin, flat cells found in various areas of your body including airways in your lungs), this form is called “squamous NSCLC.” When NSCLC arises from cells other than those called “squamous”, however, this form is known as non-squamous NSCLC.
Keytruda can be used as a first-line treatment option for treating NSCLC in certain instances when combined with chemotherapy drugs (traditional cancer treatments):
Metastatic NSCLC that doesn’t show abnormal gene mutations (or changes), as opposed to metastatic Squamous NSCLC, is known as non-squamous metastatic NSCLC.
How Keytruda is Works
Keytruda is used to treat various forms of cancer. belongs to a class of drugs known as PD-1 inhibitors.
Keytruda is a monoclonal antibody, which is a type of drug crafted by immune system cells within a laboratory environment and used to activate certain parts of your immune system to attack cancer cells. As an immunotherapy medication, Keytruda activates certain parts of your immune system to attack cancerous tumor cells more effectively.
Keytruda works by inhibiting (blocking) the activity of an immune system protein called PD-L1, commonly referred to as a checkpoint protein.
This checkpoint protein attaches (binds) to PD-1 receptors found both on normal cells and cancerous ones, to form an attachment site. PD-1 receptors can be found both within normal and cancer cells.
When PD-L1 attaches to PD-1 receptors, this signal tells T cells of your immune system not to attack foreign invaders such as cancer cells (for example). As such, cancer cells in your body continue to proliferate without being attacked and continue their growth without fear of detection. Consequently, cancerous tumors remain free to grow without interference.
Alternatives to Keytruda
Other medications exist that may treat your condition effectively; one might work better for you than others. If you’re interested in finding alternatives to Keytruda, talk with your physician; they can suggest other medicines that could work.
Keytruda is an immunotherapy medication designed to treat various types of cancer in both adults and children. As such, it instructs your immune system to attack cancer cells.
Immunotherapy drugs that may be effective against various cancer types include:
- Alemtuzumab (Campath)
- trastuzumab (Herceptin, Herzuma, Ogivri) has become the primary therapy used for breast cancer treatments.
- Nivolumab (Opdivo),
- cemiplimab (Libtayo),
- atezolizumab (Tecentriq),
- avelumab (Bavencio),
- durvalumab (Imfinzi),
- ipilimumab (Yervoy),
- bevacizumab (Avastin, Mvasi) are some of the more frequently prescribed treatments.
- Cetuximab (Erbitux)
What is the best way to receive Keytruda?
Conform to any restrictions imposed on you by your doctor concerning food, beverages, or activities.
This section details common or recommended dosages of Keytruda; however, remember that your physician will decide the optimal dose based on your unique circumstances.
Your Keytruda dosage will depend on your age. Below are examples of typical dosing schedules for adults and children.
Dosage for Adults
Keytruda dosage will depend on what condition it’s used to treat; typically you’ll receive 200-mg doses once every 3 weeks or 400-mg doses once every 6 weeks.
Keytruda for children typically is dosed at two milligrams of medication per kilogram of body weight. (One kilogram equals approximately 2.2 pounds.) The maximum dosage a child may receive at any one time is 200 mg.
Example: A child who weighs 50 pounds (23 kilograms) would take 45 mg of Keytruda per dose.
Keytruda for children can also be administered subcutaneously once every three weeks as an IV infusion.
Side Effects Keytruda
Be on the lookout for symptoms of an allergic reaction to Keytruda such as hives, difficulty breathing, or facial or throat swelling as soon as you take this medicine; or severe skin reactions including fever, sore throat, burning eyes, and skin pain with red or purple patches blistering and peeling over time. Seek emergency medical assistance immediately in such instances.
Seek medical help immediately if you experience a severe adverse drug reaction that impacts multiple parts of your body, such as skin rash, fever, swollen glands, muscle aches, severe weakness, unusual bruising, or yellowing of skin or eyes.
Do not hesitate to inform your medical caregiver if any side effects occur during injection, including dizziness, nausea, light-headedness, itchiness sweatiness; headache, chest tightness, back pain, difficulty breathing, or face swelling.
Keytruda side effects typically experienced Common Keytruda side effects that may occur include:
- Diarrhea, and shortness of breath.
- Shortness of breath.
- Rash or itchy skin,
- Bone or muscle pain as well and nausea may all be symptoms of constipation,
- Coughing diarrhea.
- Decreased appetite.
- Shortness of breath.
- Fatigue (lack of energy).
- Fever (rash/itchy skin/rash).
- Bone or muscle pain and nausea could also occur.
Keytruda Treatment Costs
As with any medication, Keytruda costs can differ depending on several factors such as your insurance plan, location, and pharmacy used. The actual price you’ll pay will depend on all three.
Financial and insurance assistance services are available
Need financial support or need help understanding your insurance coverage for Keytruda? Support is available.
Keytruda and breastfeeding go together seamlessly.
No studies, conducted either on animals or humans, have yet been completed to demonstrate whether Keytruda can be safely taken while breastfeeding.
Due to the serious side effects associated with Keytruda treatment, it’s strongly advised that breastfeeding be postponed until at least four months post-dose of Keytruda is completed.
If you are taking Keytruda and considering breastfeeding, discuss it with your physician first. They can suggest safe and healthy ways of feeding your infant.
1. What is the success rate of Keytruda?
Your response to Keytruda treatment depends on both the form of cancer you have and overall health factors, so no two experiences with Keytruda will ever be identical.
2. How long will Keytruda extend my lifespan?
Your outlook depends on several factors, including the type and stage of cancer, its effects, your age, and overall health.
Clinical studies utilizing Keytruda demonstrated its efficacy against many different forms of cancer. People taking Keytruda often survived several months longer than those receiving either other cancer drugs or placebo treatment (treatment without an active agent).
3. Have Keytruda side effects been linked with any deaths?
Yes, some serious side effects of Keytruda have been fatal; however, such deaths have been rare. Serious adverse reactions of Keytruda may result in your immune system responding adversely and leading to organ damage or failure.
4. How are immunotherapy and chemotherapy different?
Immunotherapy drugs like Keytruda work by stimulating your immune system to fight diseases such as cancer. Immunotherapy medications do this by increasing immune cells that recognize and destroy cancerous cells or by increasing levels of immunity proteins within the body.
5. How are Inlyta and Keytruda used for treating kidney cancer?
Inlyta and Keytruda are given as first-line treatment for advanced renal cell carcinoma in adults. Inlyta should be taken two times per day or every other day while Keytruda must be infused intravenously every 3 to 6 weeks for maximum effectiveness.