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Cancer immunotherapy treatment options

3 min read


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Melanoma and/or non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)

There are several different cancer immunotherapies available in Canada to treat melanoma and/or NSCLC. Let’s take a closer look at them.


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Cancer immunotherapy medications available in Canada to treat melanoma and/or NSCLC in adults

Brand name (generic name) What it treats How it works Some very common side effects (not a complete list)
PrIMFINZI* (durvalumab) IMFINZI® has been approved with conditions (see NOC/c below) for NSCLC when it has grown within the lung and cannot be removed by surgery and the cancer has responded or stabilized after treatment with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Helps the immune system fight the cancer. Cough, upper respiratory tract infection, rash, diarrhea and fever
PrKEYTRUDA* (pembrolizumab) Melanoma that has spread or cannot be removed by surgery (advanced melanoma).

NSCLC that has spread in adults whose tumours have high PD-L1 expression, no abnormal“EGFR” or “ALK” gene, and no prior systemic chemotherapy.

In combination with pemetrexed and platinum chemotherapy for NSCLC in adults with no abnormal “EGFR” or “ALK” gene and no prior systemic chemotherapy.

KEYTRUDA® has been approved with conditions (see NOC/c below) for NSCLC that has spread and that tests positive for “PD-L1” and has progressed on or after chemotherapy that contains platinum.

Helps the immune system fight the cancer. Diarrhea, nausea, itching, rash, joint pain, feeling unusually tired or weak, fever, feeling less hungry, shortness of breath and patches of skin which have lost colour (vitiligo)
PrOPDIVO* (nivolumab) Melanoma that has spread or cannot be removed by surgery (advanced melanoma) or when it or its metastases have been completely removed by surgery to help delay or prevent the cancer from coming back.

OPDIVO® has been approved with conditions (see NOC/c below) for advanced melanoma in adults who have not been treated and have a mutation in the BRAF gene, and with ipilimumab in untreated adults.

Advanced melanoma in adults who have not been treated and who do not have a mutation in the BRAF gene.

Melanoma that has spread or cannot be removed by surgery and has progressed following ipilimumab and, if BRAF V600 mutation-positive, a BRAF inhibitor.

Melanoma when it or its metastases have been completely removed by surgery to help delay or prevent the cancer from coming back.

NSCLC that has spread or grown after treatment with platinum-containing chemotherapy.

Helps the immune system to attack and destroy cancer cells. Nausea, diarrhea, skin rash, itching, feeling tired or weak and decreased appetite
PrTECENTRIQ* (atezolizumab) NSCLC that cannot be removed by surgery or has spread to other parts of the body after treatment with platinum-based chemotherapy that did not work or is no longer working. Helps your immune system to fight your cancer. Feeling very tired with no energy (fatigue), loss of appetite, nausea, fever, chills, diarrhea, vomiting, rash, shortness of breath, itching of the skin, stomach pain and joint pain
PrYERVOY* (ipilimumab) Melanoma that has spread or cannot be removed by surgery.

In combination with nivolumab for adult patients with advanced melanoma who have not been treated.

Helps your immune system attack and destroy cancer cells by your immune cells. Loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, stomach pain, itching, skin rash and feeling tired or weak

In general, all treatment options can cause serious side effects; in some cases, there is even a risk of fatal side effects. That’s why it is always important to carefully weigh the benefits of any cancer treatment against the possible risks. You should discuss possible side effects with your doctor before starting treatment.

 

NOC/c –IMFINZI, KEYTRUDA and OPDIVO have been issued marketing authorization with conditions (NOC/c), which is a form of approval granted on the basis of promising evidence of clinical effectiveness following review of the submission by Health Canada. Products approved under Health Canada’s NOC/c policy are intended for the treatment, prevention or diagnosis of a serious, life-threatening or severely debilitating illness. They have demonstrated promising benefit, are of high quality, and possess an acceptable safety profile based on a benefit/risk assessment. In addition, they either respond to a serious unmet medical need in Canada or have demonstrated a significant improvement in the benefit/risk profile over existing therapies. Health Canada has provided access to these products on the condition that sponsors carry out additional clinical trials to verify the anticipated benefit within an agreed upon timeframe.


Speak with your doctor to find out which treatment option is right for you.


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If you experience these or any other side effects during your treatment,

speak with your doctor right away.

There are ways that you can help reduce or manage your side effects to get you through your treatment as comfortably as possible.