Immunotherapy for oral cancer
Immunotherapy is sometimes used to treat oral cancer. Immunotherapy helps to strengthen or restore the immune system’s ability to fight cancer. Immunotherapy is sometimes called biological therapy.
You may have immunotherapy to treat recurrent or metastatic oral cancer.
Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) may be used as a
Nivolumab (Opdivo) is used to treat metastatic or recurrent oral cancer that has stopped responding to chemotherapy with platinum drugs such as cisplatin or carboplatin.
Your healthcare team will consider your personal needs to plan the drugs, doses and schedules of immunotherapy. You may also receive other treatments.
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Side effects can happen with any type of treatment for oral cancer, but everyone’s experience is different. Some people have many side effects. Other people have few or none at all.
Side effects of immunotherapy will depend mainly on the type of drug or drug combination, the dose, how it’s given and your overall health. Nivolumab may cause these side effects:
- loss of appetite
- skin problems including rash and itching
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Be sure to report side effects to the healthcare team. Side effects can happen any time during, immediately after or a few days or weeks after immunotherapy. Sometimes late side effects develop months or years later. Most side effects go away on their own or can be treated, but some side effects may last a long time or become permanent.
Your healthcare team is there to help. The sooner you tell them of any problems, the sooner they can suggest ways to help you deal with them.
Information about specific cancer drugs @(Model.HeadingTag)>
Details on specific drugs change regularly. Find out more about sources of drug information and where to get details on specific drugs.
Questions to ask about immunotherapy @(Model.HeadingTag)>
Find out more about immunotherapy. To make the decisions that are right for you, ask your healthcare team questions about immunotherapy.
Expert review and references
American Cancer Society. Oral Cavity and Oropharyngeal Cancer. 2016.
American Society of Clinical Oncology. Oral and Oropharyngeal cancer. 2016: http://www.cancer.net/.
Ferris, RL, Blumenschein G, Fayette J, Guigay J, et al . Nivolumab for recurrent squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. New England Journal of Medicine. 2016.
Mendenhall WM, Werning JW, Pfister DG . Cancer of the head and neck. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, & Rosenberg SA. Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015: 38: 422-473.
National Cancer Institute. Lip and Oral Cavity Cancer Treatment (PDQ®) Patient Version. 2016.
National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Head and Neck Cancers (Version 1.2015). 2015.