Immunotherapy for oropharyngeal cancer
Immunotherapy is sometimes used to treat oropharyngeal 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
Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) may be used as a
Nivolumab (Opdivo) is used to treat metastatic or recurrent oropharyngeal 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 oropharyngeal 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:
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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.
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.