A drug that binds to the protein PD-1 to help immune cells kill cancer cells better and is used to treat many different types of cancer. These include cancers that express the protein PD-L1, that have certain mutations (changes) in genes involved in DNA repair, or that have a high number of tumor mutations. Pembrolizumab is used alone or with other drugs to treat certain types of breast cancer, skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma of the skin, Merkel cell carcinoma, and melanoma), colorectal cancer, endometrial cancer, renal cell carcinoma (a type of kidney cancer), esophageal cancer, gastroesophageal junction cancer, stomach cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma (a type of liver cancer), cervical cancer, urothelial carcinoma (a type of bladder or urinary tract cancer), Hodgkin lymphoma, primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma, head and neck cancer, and other solid tumors. It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Pembrolizumab may block PD-1 and help the immune system kill cancer cells. It is a type of monoclonal antibody and a type of immune checkpoint inhibitor. Also called Keytruda.
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Pembrolizumab, sold under the brand name Keytruda, is a humanized antibody used in cancer immunotherapy that treats melanoma, lung cancer, head and neck cancer, Hodgkin lymphoma, stomach cancer, cervical cancer, and certain types of breast cancer.
Pembrolizumab was approved for medical use in the United States in 2014. In 2017, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved it for any unresectable or metastatic solid tumor with certain genetic anomalies (mismatch repair deficiency or microsatellite instability). It is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines.
As of 2019, pembrolizumab is used via intravenous infusion to treat inoperable or metastatic melanoma, metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in certain situations, as a first-line treatment for metastatic bladder cancer in patients who cannot receive cisplatin-based chemotherapy and have high levels of PD-L1, as a second-line treatment for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), after platinum-based chemotherapy, for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients with refractory classic Hodgkin’s lymphoma (cHL), and recurrent locally advanced or metastatic esophageal squamous cell carcinoma.