Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

How Effective is Opdivo?

Opdivo is a medicine used to treat cancer. It works with the immune system of the patient to interfere or alter the spread and growth of cancer cells in the body.

The medicine is used in treating kidney cancer, skin cancer (melanoma), bladder cancer, classical Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, non-small cell lung cancer, colorectal cancer, squamous cell cancer of the neck and head, urothelial carcinoma and liver cancer. This medicine can be given alone or with other cancer medicines. In more often than not, Opdivo medicine is used as the last option when other medicines have failed to produce desired results.

Sometimes, Opdivo is used in cases where cancer has spread to the other parts of your body. This medicine is sometimes used to treat some cancer that cannot be treated with surgery. In the case of Hodgkin lymphoma, Opdivo is usually used when the condition has progressed or relapsed after treatment with brentixumab vedotin (Adcetris) and stem plant transplant, or after treatment with other medications.

How Effective is Opdivo?

Opdivo is used in an attempt to boost the chances of a longer survival time in people suffering from non-small cell lung cancer.

Important Information

Opdivo has the potential of changing how your immune system works. This may cause some side effects that may cause some serious medical problems.

US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Opdivo on an “accelerated” basis for particular types of cancer. Clinical studies show that Opdivo can produce partial or complete responses, and it can increase longer survival time without the cancer progressing any further. Nevertheless, further clinical studies are needed.

You might experience symptoms caused by the side effects of Opdivo in various parts of your body. Not all side effects will disappear untreated. If you experience side effects that require treatment, your cancer treatment may be put on hold for a while you take some medicines for treating those side effects.

Your doctor will conduct frequent medical tests to determine whether it is not harmful for you to keep on receiving Opdivo.

Before Taking Opdivo

You should not use this medicine in case you are allergic to Opdivo.

Before you start using Opdivo, inform your doctor if you currently have, or if you have ever had:

  • Kidney disease;
  • Liver disease;
  • An organ transplant;
  • Breathing problems or any lung disease;
  • A thyroid disorder; or
  • Ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s disease and any other autoimmune disorder.

You should never use this medicine if you are pregnant because it could harm your unborn baby. When on this medication, you should use any effective birth control so that you prevent pregnancy. You should prevent pregnancy for more than 5 months after stopping using Opdivo.

Even though it is not clear whether Opdivo can harm a nursing baby, you should avoid it if you are breastfeeding just in case it can pass into breast milk.

What is the Recommended Dosage of Opdivo?

Dosage for Adults with Melanoma – Metastatic:

  • Adults should take 3 mg/kg IV infusion over one hour every 14 days.
  • Therapy should continue until disease progresses or until unacceptable toxicity occurs.

Opdivo has been approved by FDA under accelerated based on how it responds to tumor, and its durability of response. Confirmatory trials will be conducted for any continual approval. Opdivo is used for treatment of metastatic melanoma or unrespectable and disease progress after ipilimumab, and a BRAF inhibitor in case BRAF V600 mutation is positive.

Dose for adults with lung cancer:

3 mg/kg IV infusion over an hour every 2 weeks

Therapy should continue until disease progresses or until unacceptable toxicity occurs. Opdivo treats metastatic squamous non-small cell lung cancer abbreviated as NSCLS after or with progression on chemotherapy based on platinum.

What are the Side Effects of Opdivo?

Whenever you notice any sign of allergic reaction to this medicine such as difficulty breathing, hives, swelling of throat, face, lips, or tongue, seek emergency medical assistance.

Side effects such as fever, light-headedness, dizziness and weak breath may occur during injection.

Contact your doctor immediately if you have the below severe side effects of Opdivo:

  • Changes in your vision;
  • Skin rush, blistering, or itching;
  • Severe stomach pain, diarrhea, bloody stools;
  • Ulcers or sores in your genitals, rectum, or mouth;
  • Muscle or joint pain or weakness;
  • Memory problems, neck stiffness, hallucinations, seizure, drowsiness, headache, confusion;
  • Lung problems – wheezing, sudden discomfort or chest pain, new or worsening cough;
  • Liver problems – loss of appetite, drowsiness, severe vomiting or nausea, dark urine, upper stomach pain, jaundice, clay-colored stools, eye bleeding or bruising;
  • Kidney problems – swelling in your ankles or feet, blood in the urine, no or little urinating or
  • Signs of an hormonal disorder – weight loss or weight gain, feeling cold, hair loss, deepened or hoarse voice, sweating, constipation, increased urination or thirst, behavior or mood changes, feeling very tired or light-headed, or unusual or headache.

If you experience certain side effects, your cancer treatments may be delayed or discontinued permanently. Most common side effects of Opdivo may include:

  • Back pain;
  • Body aches, fever;
  • Vomiting, constipation, loss of appetite, nausea;
  • Cold symptoms such as sore throat, sneezing, runny nose; or
  • Itching and skin rush.
Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: November 22, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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