Keytruda - Pembrolizumab Injection

What is this medication?

PEMBROLIZUMAB (PEM broe LIZ ue mab) treats some types of cancer. It works by helping your immune system slow or stop the spread of cancer cells. It is a monoclonal antibody.

This medicine may be used for other purposes; ask your health care provider or pharmacist if you have questions.

COMMON BRAND NAME(S): Keytruda

What should I tell my care team before I take this medication?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:

  • Allogeneic stem cell transplant (uses someone else's stem cells)
  • Autoimmune diseases, such as Crohn disease, ulcerative colitis, lupus
  • History of chest radiation
  • Nervous system problems, such as Guillain-Barre syndrome, myasthenia gravis
  • Organ transplant
  • An unusual or allergic reaction to pembrolizumab, other medications, foods, dyes, or preservatives
  • Pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • Breast-feeding

How should I use this medication?

This medication is injected into a vein. It is given by your care team in a hospital or clinic setting.

A special MedGuide will be given to you before each treatment. Be sure to read this information carefully each time.

Talk to your care team about the use of this medication in children. While it may be prescribed for children as young as 6 months for selected conditions, precautions do apply.

Overdosage: If you think you have taken too much of this medicine contact a poison control center or emergency room at once.

NOTE: This medicine is only for you. Do not share this medicine with others.

What if I miss a dose?

Keep appointments for follow-up doses. It is important not to miss your dose. Call your care team if you are unable to keep an appointment.

What may interact with this medication?

Interactions have not been studied.

This list may not describe all possible interactions. Give your health care provider a list of all the medicines, herbs, non-prescription drugs, or dietary supplements you use. Also tell them if you smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs. Some items may interact with your medicine.

What should I watch for while using this medication?

Your condition will be monitored carefully while you are receiving this medication. You may need blood work while taking this medication.

This medication may cause serious skin reactions. They can happen weeks to months after starting the medication. Contact your care team right away if you notice fevers or flu-like symptoms with a rash. The rash may be red or purple and then turn into blisters or peeling of the skin. You may also notice a red rash with swelling of the face, lips, or lymph nodes in your neck or under your arms.

Tell your care team right away if you have any change in your eyesight.

Talk to your care team if you may be pregnant. Serious birth defects can occur if you take this medication during pregnancy and for 4 months after the last dose. You will need a negative pregnancy test before starting this medication. Contraception is recommended while taking this medication and for 4 months after the last dose. Your care team can help you find the option that works for you.

Do not breastfeed while taking this medication and for 4 months after the last dose.

What side effects may I notice from receiving this medication?

Side effects that you should report to your care team as soon as possible:

  • Allergic reactions—skin rash, itching, hives, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
  • Dry cough, shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • Eye pain, redness, irritation, or discharge with blurry or decreased vision
  • Heart muscle inflammation—unusual weakness or fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, fast or irregular heartbeat, dizziness, swelling of the ankles, feet, or hands
  • Hormone gland problems—headache, sensitivity to light, unusual weakness or fatigue, dizziness, fast or irregular heartbeat, increased sensitivity to cold or heat, excessive sweating, constipation, hair loss, increased thirst or amount of urine, tremors or shaking, irritability
  • Infusion reactions—chest pain, shortness of breath or trouble breathing, feeling faint or lightheaded
  • Kidney injury (glomerulonephritis)—decrease in the amount of urine, red or dark brown urine, foamy or bubbly urine, swelling of the ankles, hands, or feet
  • Liver injury—right upper belly pain, loss of appetite, nausea, light-colored stool, dark yellow or brown urine, yellowing skin or eyes, unusual weakness or fatigue
  • Pain, tingling, or numbness in the hands or feet, muscle weakness, change in vision, confusion or trouble speaking, loss of balance or coordination, trouble walking, seizures
  • Rash, fever, and swollen lymph nodes
  • Redness, blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin, including inside the mouth
  • Sudden or severe stomach pain, bloody diarrhea, fever, nausea, vomiting

Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your care team if they continue or are bothersome):

  • Bone, joint, or muscle pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Skin rash

This list may not describe all possible side effects. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Where should I keep my medication?

This medication is given in a hospital or clinic. It will not be stored at home.

NOTE: This sheet is a summary. It may not cover all possible information. If you have questions about this medicine, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider.

© 2023 Elsevier/Gold Standard (2023-05-02 00:00:00)


Additional Information From Chemocare.com About Keytruda

Self-Care Tips:

  • Drink at least two to three quarts of fluid every 24 hours, unless you are instructed otherwise.
  • If you should experience nausea, take anti-nausea medications as prescribed by your doctor, and eat small frequent meals. Sucking on lozenges and chewing gum may also help.
  • Avoid sun exposure. Wear SPF 30 (or higher) sun block and protective clothing.
  • In general, drinking alcoholic beverages should be kept to a minimum or avoided completely. You should discuss this with your doctor.
  • Use an electric razor to minimize bleeding
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Maintain good nutrition.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • You may be at risk for infection, report fever or any other signs of infection immediately to your healthcare provider. Try to avoid crowds or people with colds, and report fever or any other signs of infection immediately to your healthcare provider.
  • Discuss with your health care provider before taking any other medications including over the counter and herbal preparations.
  • To help prevent mouth sores use a soft toothbrush, and rinse three times a day with ½ to 1 teaspoon of baking soda and/or ½ to 1 teaspoon of salt mixed with 8 ounces of water.
  • If you experience symptoms or side effects, be sure to discuss them with your health care team. They can prescribe medications and/or offer other suggestions that are effective in managing such problems.

When to contact your doctor or health care provider:

Contact your health care provider immediately, day or night, if you should experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.4° F (38° or higher, chills)
  • Signs of reaction to the drug (wheezing, chest tightness, itching, bad cough, swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat)
  • New or worsening cough, chest pain, or shortness of breath
  • Diarrhea or severe abdominal pain, especially right side
  • Blood in your stools or dark stools
  • Skin or the whites of your eyes turn yellow
  • Persistent or unusual headache, extreme weakness, dizziness or fainting, or vision changes

The following symptoms require medical attention, but are not an emergency. Contact your doctor or health care provider within 24 hours of noticing any of the following:

  • Unable to eat or drink for 24 hours or have signs of dehydration: tiredness, thirst, dry mouth, dark and decrease amount of urine, or dizziness
  • Urine turns dark or brown (tea color)
  • Decreased appetite
  • Skin rash with or without itching
  • Sores in the mouth
  • Skin blisters and/or peels
  • Numbness or tingling in hands or feet
  • Bleed or bruise more easily than normal
  • Nausea (interferes with ability to eat and unrelieved with prescribed medication)
  • Vomiting (vomiting more than 4-5 times in a 24 hour period)

Always inform your health care provider if you experience any unusual symptoms.


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