What is Nivolumab?

Nivolumab (Opdivo) is a monoclonal antibody chemotherapy/biotherapy medication know as an anti-PD-1. It is used to treat unresectable or metastatic melanoma and metastatic non-small cell lung cancer. Another non-FDA approved, off-label indication is advanced clear cell renal cell cancer. This medication disrupts the pathway that prevents T-cells (also known as killer cells produced by the immune system) from causing cell death. With the signal preventing cell death death gone, the tumor is instructed to be destroyed.

How it is administered:

Nivolumab is administered as an intravenous infusion over 1 hour. Nausea and hypersensitivity reactions are very rare with this medication and pre-medications prior to the administration are not required.

What to expect:

Nivolumab can cause anemia and reduce the body’s ability to fight infections. Other side effects associated with this therapy include: water retention, fatigue, electrolyte imbalance, decreased appetite, nausea, constipation, irritation of the colon, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, increased liver enzymes, muscle and joint pain, decreased kidney function, shortness of breath and fever. Additionally, it can cause numbness, pain and tingling in the extremities. It is important to report any changes in feelings of the extremities to your provider immediately. Laboratory tests will be performed routinely throughout the course of therapy to help manage and monitor the development of these side effects.