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Opdivo

Generic Name: nivolumab (nye VOL ue mab)
Brand Name: Opdivo

Medically reviewed on April 23, 2018

What is nivolumab?

Nivolumab is a cancer medicine that works with your immune system to interfere with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.

Nivolumab is used to treat melanoma (skin cancer), non-small cell lung cancer, bladder cancer, liver cancer, kidney cancer, squamous cell cancer of the head and neck, colorectal cancer, and classical Hodgkin Lymphoma. Nivolumab can be given alone or in combination with other cancer medicines. Nivolumab is often used after other treatments have failed.

Nivolumab is sometimes used if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body or cannot be treated with surgery. For Hodgkin lymphoma, nivolumab is used if the condition has relapsed or progressed after stem cell transplant and treatment with brentixumab vedotin (Adcetris) or other medications.

In people with non-small cell lung cancer, nivolumab may increase the chance of a longer survival time.

Nivolumab may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

Nivolumab can cause side effects in many different parts of your body. Some side effects may need to be treated with other medicine, and your cancer treatments may be delayed.

Call your doctor at once if you have: chest pain, cough, shortness of breath, vision changes, severe muscle pain or weakness, diarrhea and severe stomach pain, blood in your stools, little or no urinating, swelling, bruising or bleeding, dark urine, yellowing of the skin or eyes, skin sores, confusion, hallucinations, a seizure, or a hormonal disorder (frequent headaches, feeling light-headed, increased thirst or urination, a deeper voice, feeling cold, weight gain or loss).

Before taking this medicine

You should not use nivolumab if you are allergic to it.

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

Do not use nivolumab if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy while you are using this medicine and for at least 5 months after your last dose.

You should not breast-feed while using this medicine.

How is nivolumab given?

Your doctor will perform tests to make sure nivolumab is the best treatment for your type of cancer.

Nivolumab is given as an infusion into a vein by a healthcare provider. Nivolumab must be given by slow infusion over at least 1 hour.

Nivolumab is usually given once every 2 to 3 weeks. Your doctor will determine how long to treat you with this medicine.

You may be given medication to treat or prevent certain side effects of nivolumab.

Nivolumab can cause side effects in many parts of your body by changing how your immune system works. Some side effects may be treated with other medicine, and your cancer treatments may be delayed or stopped.

You will need frequent medical tests to help your doctor determine if it is safe for you to keep receiving nivolumab. Do not miss any follow-up visits to your doctor.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Call your doctor for instructions if you miss an appointment for your nivolumab injection.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while receiving nivolumab?

Follow your doctor's instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity.

Nivolumab side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Some side effects may occur during the injection. Tell your caregiver right away if you feel dizzy, light-headed, short of breath, itchy, tingly, chilled, or feverish.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • severe or ongoing diarrhea, severe stomach pain, bloody or tarry stools;

  • new or worsening skin rash, itching, or blistering;

  • sores or ulcers in your mouth, nose, rectum, or genitals;

  • changes in your vision;

  • severe muscle weakness, ongoing pain in your muscles or joints;

  • lung problems--new or worsening cough, chest pain, feeling short of breath;

  • symptoms of brain swelling--confusion, headache, memory problems, hallucinations, neck stiffness, drowsiness, seizure (convulsions);

  • kidney problems--little or no urinating; blood in your urine; swelling in your feet or ankles;

  • liver problems--severe nausea or vomiting, loss of appetite, upper stomach pain, drowsiness, easy bruising or bleeding, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes); or

  • signs of a hormonal disorder--frequent or unusual headaches, feeling light-headed or very tired, mood or behavior changes, increased thirst or urination, constipation, hair loss, sweating, hoarse or deepened voice, feeling cold, weight gain, or weight loss.

Your cancer treatments may be delayed or permanently discontinued if you have certain side effects.

Common side effects may include:

  • nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, loss of appetite, diarrhea, constipation;

  • feeling weak, tired, or short of breath;

  • cold symptoms such as runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, cough, sore throat;

  • fever, body aches;

  • skin rash, itching; or

  • headache, back pain.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

What other drugs will affect nivolumab?

Other drugs may affect nivolumab, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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