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GB-PDO-01312 | Date of Preparation: November 2020


Your treatment with KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab)1 and axitinib2

The information provided on this site is general education information and does not take the place of your healthcare professional’s advice. Please always follow your healthcare professional’s instructions and talk with him/her about any questions or problems you have regarding your health and treatment

As part of your treatment for advanced kidney cancer, your doctors prescribed you 2 medicines:

  • KEYTRUDA (also known as pembrolizumab), and
  • Inlyta (also known as axitinib)

Take your medicine as prescribed and inform your doctor, pharmacist or nurse if you get any side effects immediately. Always read the patient information leaflet of any medicine you have been prescribed.

Your healthcare professional will have provided you with a Patient Information Brochure and Patient Alert Card. Please always refer to these materials as the first point of reference when seeking information on your treatment.

Why do the medicines have two names?

Many medicines are known by different names. Usually, a medicine has 2 names:

  • A brand name
  • A generic or medical name

For example, KEYTRUDA is the brand name, and pembrolizumab is the generic name.

Your patient journey

As a patient who has just been prescribed Keytruda and axitinib for advanced kidney cancer, then you may find it useful to start with the following chapters:

Download Chapters 1–3 and 9–12
Download Chapters 1–4

Chapter 1

PDF 120 KB

Emergency contact details

Download

Chapter 2

PDF 1.3 KB

Using your treatment diary

Download

Chapter 3

PDF 185 KB

Treatment information

Download

Chapter 4

PDF 671 KB

Learn about kidney cancer

Download
Download Chapters 5–7

Chapter 5

PDF 571 KB

Symptoms and diagnosis of kidney cancer

Download

Chapter 6

PDF 381 KB

Treating kidney cancer

Download

Chapter 7

PDF 636 KB

Living with kidney cancer

Download
Download Chapters 8–12

Chapter 8

PDF 1.1 KB

Surgery for kidney cancer

Download

Chapter 9

PDF 542 KB

Getting ready for treatment

Download

Chapter 10

PDF 1.7 KB

Your treatment

Download

Chapter 11

PDF 402 KB

Frequently asked questions

Download

Chapter 12

PDF 379 KB

What to ask

Download
Download Chapter 13

Chapter 13

PDF 816 KB

Living with kidney cancer

Download

Your healthcare professional will have provided you with a Patient Information Brochure and Patient Alert Card. Please always refer to these materials as the first point of reference when seeking information on your treatment.

What is KEYTRUDA and how does it work?1

Normally, our bodies are good at finding cancer and destroying it. However, some cancers can send out signals which help them hide from our immune systems. This lets cancer cells grow and spread.

  • KEYTRUDA is a type of cancer treatment called immunotherapy
  • Immunotherapy works with your immune system to help fight cancer

How KEYTRUDA works

The immune system is your body’s natural defence against disease.

It sends immune cells throughout your body to seek out cancer cells and destroy them.

However, some cancer cells can make signals which let them hide from our immune system.

This stops the immune system from attacking cancer cells and lets cancer cells grow and spread.

KEYTRUDA blocks these signals.

This helps your immune system do what it’s meant to: detect and destroy the cancer cells.

What is Inlyta (axitinib) and how does it work?2

Inlyta is a type of drug which can stop blood supply to cancer cells. This means cancer cells don’t have food and oxygen, which causes them to die.

How axitinib works

Cancers can send out signals which cause new blood vessels to grow towards the cancer.

Axitinib can block these signals. This stops blood vessels from growing towards the cancer and starves cancer cells of food and oxygen.

Why do I have to take two medicines together?

KEYTRUDA and axitinib affect 2 different ways that cancer grows, which has been shown to be one method available to keep the cancer under control.

How do I take my treatment?

You’ll be delivered KEYTRUDA in your vein through an intravenous drip, or infusion, every 3 weeks. It takes about 30 minutes to get each infusion.

Nurses will help connect the drip and make sure that the solution is flowing correctly and safely.

Axitinib is a red tablet which you take by mouth 2 times a day, 12 hours apart. The standard axitinib tablet is a 5 mg dose and has a triangular shape.

Sometimes, doctors may change to a different dose of axitinib, which has a different shaped tablet. Your doctor, nurse or pharmacist will let you know the exact dose of axitinib that you will receive. Take your medicine as prescribed and inform your doctor, pharmacist or nurse if you get any side effects immediately. Always read the patient information leaflet of any medicine you have been prescribed.

How long will my treatment last?

You’ll take this treatment for as long as doctors think it is still working to fight the cancer. In some cases, doctors may pause treatment for a while so you can recover from side effects.

If side effects continue or get worse, doctors may choose to stop treatment earlier. Your doctors will talk about this with you before making any decisions.

What are the side effects of my treatment?

Like all medicines, this treatment can cause side effects. Although that varies from one person to another, it is important to look out for any signs and/or symptoms.

Side effects can appear soon after starting treatment. But they can also occur at any time and up to 3 months after your treatment stops.

Tell your doctor about your side effects early so they have more time to care for them. It’s important to know the side effects and report them to your doctors right away before they get worse or affect your treatment.

Take your medicine as prescribed and inform your doctor, pharmacist or nurse if you get any side effects immediately. Always read the patient information leaflet of any medicine you have been prescribed.

It is also possible to experience more than one side effect at a time.

Speak to your healthcare professional IMMEDIATELY if you notice any of these symptoms.

Do NOT wait for your next appointment.

Do NOT attempt to diagnose or treat side effects yourself.

Speak to your healthcare professional immediately if you experience ANY of the following signs:

Tips while taking your medicine3

Whilst you are taking your medicine, these tips may help you deal with side effects and support your recovery:

Follow a healthy meal plan

Both before and during treatment, it is important to follow a healthy meal plan. You may be referred to a dietitian who can give you a food plan for healthy food and drink, which can also help deal with possible side effects linked to your treatment, such as feeling sick.

Be active

Being active can help you cope with side effects such as feeling tired and constipated. Before starting exercise, discuss this with your healthcare professional and develop a plan to stay active that is suitable for you.

Take care of your skin

Moisturising your hands, feet, and face at least 2 times a day can help prevent skin problems. If you do housework, gardening, or manual work, wear gloves to protect your hands.

Take care of your teeth and gums

To keep your mouth healthy and prevent bleeding gums:

  • Brush your teeth 2 times a day
  • Rinse with alcohol-free mouthwash

Take your blood pressure

Nurses will take your blood pressure both before and during treatment.

You can also take your blood pressure at home using a monitor.

Important points to remember whilst taking your treatment

Book doctor's appointments on the days you pick up axitinib2

Axitinib is prescribed in packs of 56 (enough for 4 weeks). Talk to your doctor about booking appointments on the days you pick up your axitinib tablets to avoid extra trips.

Talk to your doctor about taking other medicines5

Before taking any other medicines, including antibiotics or painkillers, talk to your doctor or pharmacist to make sure it’s okay to take with your treatment.

Before taking vitamins or herbal supplements, talk to your doctor in case the vitamins or supplements could change how your treatment works.

Do not take St John’s wort whilst on treatment with KEYTRUDA® and axitinib.

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before any immunisation.

Avoid certain foods and drinks4,5

Avoid eating grapefruit, or drinking juices with grapefruit juice, because they can stop your treatment from working correctly.

Limit or stop drinking alcohol

Axitinib tablets contain lactose which may affect some people with a lactose intolerance. If you are lactose intolerant, tell your doctor before your treatment.

Fertility considerations

For men, do not get your partner pregnant during treatment. If you plan to be sexually active, talk to your doctors about birth control.

For women, talk to your doctors if you are thinking about pregnancy or have already given birth. They can give more information on birth control and options for breastfeeding.

References

  1. KEYTRUDA Summary of Product Characteristics.
  2. Inlyta Summary of Product Characteristics.
  3. Cancer Research UK. Available at https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/.
  4. KEYTRUDA Patient Information Leaflet (PIL). Available from: https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/medicine/33163.
  5. Inlyta Patient Information Leaflet (PIL). Available from: https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/4325/pil.

Supporting documentation

KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab)

Summary of Product Characteristics | Patient Information Leaflet

Inlyta® (axitinib)

Summary of Product Characteristics | Patient Information Leaflet

GB-RCC-00156 | Date of Preparation: November 2020