US Brand Name(s): Keytruda

Use in Cancer Treatment

Pembrolizumab is to treat the following conditions:

  • Triple-negative breast cancer is a kind of breast cancer. 
    • Pembrolizumab is also in combination with chemotherapy in individuals who has recurrent cancer or for whom surgery will not be effective or has spread and possesses the PD-L1 protein.
    • In individuals with early-stage cancer who have a high chance of recurrence, chemotherapy before surgery and then chemotherapy alone following surgery.
  • Cervical cancer has recurred or spread to other parts of the body. Patients who have cancer that contains the PD-L1 protein and whose cancer has become worse during or after treatment. 
  • Hodgkin lymphoma is the most common kind of lymphoma. 
    • Pembrolizumab is used in individuals with refractory (non-responding to therapy) or relapsed cancer.
    • Children with refractory cancer or cancer that has relapsed after at least two previous treatments.
  • Locally progressed, recurring, or metastatic cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (a form of skin cancer). Patients for whom surgery or radiation therapy will not be effective, pembrolizumab can be.
  • Endometrial cancer has progressed and worsened despite previous systemic treatments. In patients with cancer that is neither microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) or mismatch repair deficient (dMMR) and surgery or radiation treatment will not be effective, pembrolizumab is in combination with lenvatinib.
  • Cancer of the esophagus or gastroesophageal junction that has spread and is resistant to surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. Along with platinum treatment and fluoropyrimidine.
    • Patients with squamous cell cancer who have the PD-L1 protein for who the systemic treatment is not working or isn’t functioning alone.

Further Uses of Pembrolizumab

  • Gastroesophageal junction adenocarcinoma is a kind of stomach cancer. In patients with HER2-positive cancer that has spread or for which surgery will not be effective, pembrolizumab in combination with trastuzumab, a fluoropyrimidine, and platinum chemotherapy as the first line of treatment. 
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma (a form of liver cancer) is one of the most common cancers in the United States.
  • Melanoma. Patients who have cancer that cannot be removed by surgery or that has metastasized (spread to other regions of the body) or patients who have had surgery to remove cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes are candidates for pembrolizumab.
  • Adults and children with Merkel cell carcinoma. Patients with recurrent cancer or spread.
  • malignancy with a high level of microsatellite instability (MSI-H) or a deficiency in mismatch repair (dMMR) that is metastatic or cannot be removed surgically. Pembrolizumab is used to treat solid tumors in adults and children that have progressed after previous therapy and are resistant to other treatments. Colorectal cancer is the most common type of cancer. Pembrolizumab can be a first-line therapy.
  • Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is a kind of lung cancer that affects patients with nonsquamous metastatic cancer who do not have a mutation in the EGFR or ALK genes, pembrolizumab in combination with pemetrexed and platinum chemotherapy as the first line of treatment.
    • The first treatment for metastatic squamous carcinoma is carboplatin and either paclitaxel or paclitaxel albumin-stabilized nanoparticle formulation.
    • When a patient’s cancer contains the PD-L1 protein but no mutation in the EGFR or ALK genes, it can be effective alone as a first therapy. Patients with stage III cancer for whom surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy will not be effective. It’s also for individuals with advanced cancer who have spread to other parts of the body.

  • Urothelial carcinoma is a kind of cancer that affects the lining (a type of bladder cancer).
    • Patients whose cancer has spread and platinum chemotherapy will not be effective, or whose cancer has become worse during or after treatment with platinum chemotherapy.
    • Patients with high-risk cancer in situ that has not progressed to muscle and has not responded to therapy with bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG). Pembrolizumab is also for individuals for whom the surgery will not be effective and for those who have chosen not to have surgery.

The FDA’s Accelerated Approval Program has authorized this usage. Confirmatory trials must prove that pembrolizumab has a clinical benefit in these individuals as a condition of approval.

Pembrolizumab is also under research for use in the treatment of various cancers.

Detailed scientific definition and other names for this drug.Definition from the NCI Drug Dictionary 

Pembrolizumab  Information on MedlinePlus

A summary of key information regarding this medicine in layman’s terms, which may contain the following:

  • Cautions about this medicine
  • What is the use and how?
  • Whom should you consult before taking it?
  • What you should know about it before using it?
  • Other drugs that might interact with it
  • Possible negative effects

Drugs are frequently under research to see whether they can assist treat or prevent conditions other than those already prevalent. This patient information leaflet covers uses which have been under authorization. Much of the material, though, might also apply to authorized uses that are being investigated.