Class: Biological Therapy
Generic Name: ipilimumab
Trade Name: Yervoy™
How is this drug used? Yervoy is used for the treatment of metastatic melanoma or melanoma that cannot be surgically removed, and for an additional indication of adjuvant treatment of patients with cutaneous melanoma involving nearby lymph nodes of more than 1 mm who have undergone complete resection or lymphadenectomy.
What is the mechanism of action? Yervoy targets a molecule known as CTLA4. CTLA4 is found on the surface of T cells and is thought to inhibit immune responses. By targeting this molecule, Yervoy may enhance the immune system’s response against tumor cells.
How is Yervoy given (administered)? Yervoy is given as an intravenous (IV) infusion.
How are patients monitored? Patients will usually have scheduled meetings with their healthcare provider while they are being treated with Yervoy. Typically, blood will be drawn to check levels of blood cells and to monitor functions of some organ systems. Patients may also undergo physical examinations or other measures to assess side effects and response to therapy.
What are the most common side effects of treatment with Yervoy?
What are some of the less common but potentially serious side effects of Yervoy?
Yervoy can result in severe immune-mediated side effects (side effects that result from activation of the immune system). These side effects—which can involve any organ system—typically begin during treatment with Yervoy, but can also show up months after treatment with Yervoy ends. The most common severe immune-mediated side effects are the following:
- Enterocolitis (inflammation of the intestines; can cause tears or holes in the intestines)
- Hepatitis (inflammation of the liver; can lead to liver failure)
- Dermatitis (inflammation of the skin)
- Neuropathy (inflammation of the nerves; can lead to paralysis)
- Endocrinopathy (inflammation of the glands that produce hormones; may affect how these glands function)
- Inflammation of the eyes.
This is not a complete list of side effects. Some patients may experience other side effects that are not listed here. Patients may wish to discuss with their physician the other less common side effects of this drug, some of which may be serious.
Some side effects may require medical attention. Other side effects do not require medical attention and may go away during treatment. Patients should check with their physician about any side effects that continue or are bothersome.
What can patients do to help alleviate or prevent discomfort and side effects?
- Pay careful attention to the physician’s instructions, and discuss side effects with your physician.
Are there any special precautions patients should be aware of before starting treatment?
- Patients should inform their physician about all medical conditions, including autoimmune diseases, organ transplantation, and liver damage.
- Patients should inform their physician of any other medication or supplement they are taking (whether prescription or over-the-counter).
- Patients should inform their physician if they are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning a family in the near future.
When should patients notify their physician?
Tell your doctor if you experience any side effects that bother you or don’t go away. Watch for signs of serious side effects and report these to your doctor immediately: symptoms of enterocolitis may include diarrhea or more bowel movements than usual, blood in your stools or dark sticky stools, or stomach pain or tenderness; symptoms of hepatitis may include jaundice (yellowing of the skin or the whites of your eyes), dark urine, nausea and vomiting, pain on right side of stomach, and easy bruising or bleeding; symptoms of dermatitis may include skin rash, sores in your mouth, or skin blistering or peeling; symptoms of neuropathy may include unusual weakness of the legs, arms or face, or numbness or tingling in the hands or feet; symptoms of endocrinopathy include persistent or unusual headaches, unusual sluggishness or weight gain, feeling cold all the time, changes in mood or behavior, or dizziness or fainting; and symptoms of eye inflammation may include changes in vision or eye pain or redness.
What is a package insert?
A package insert is required by the FDA and contains a summary of the essential scientific information needed for the safe and effective use of the drug for healthcare providers and consumers. A package insert typically includes information regarding specific indications, administration schedules, dosing, side effects, contraindications, results from some clinical trials, chemical structure, pharmacokinetics and metabolism of the specific drug. By carefully reviewing the package insert, you will get the most complete and current information about how to safely use this drug. If you do not have the package insert for the drug you are using, your pharmacist or physician may be able to provide you with a copy.
Copyright © 2016 CancerConnect Last updated 04/11.
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