Pembrolizumab (Keytruda)

The Basics

Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) is an FDA-approved treatment for prostate, skin, lung, and liver cancer. It is also used in combination with other treatment regimens for cancers of head and neck, urethra, bladder, esophagus, kidney, and large intestine. Pembrolizumab is also found to be effective in the treatment of Hodgkin’s disease.

It falls under the class of medications called monoclonal antibodies. It works by helping your immune system slow or stop cancer cell growth.

Let us walk you through the key things you need to know about pembrolizumab.

How should I take pembrolizumab (Keytruda)?

Patient getting IV chemotherapy

Pembrolizumab comes as a solution which is injected into a vein over 30 minutes by a doctor or nurse in a medical facility.

Pembrolizumab injection may cause serious reactions during, or shortly after the infusion of the medication. If you experience any of the following symptoms, tell your doctor immediately: flushing, fever, chills, shaking, dizziness, feeling faint, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, itching, rash, or hives.

Talk to your doctor about how you are feeling during your treatment. You can help them by tracking your side effects in Ankr.

You can also visit the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website to obtain the Medication Guide.

What are the side effects of pembrolizumab (Keytruda)?

Common side effects

Serious side effects

Pembrolizumab injection may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while receiving this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online or by phone (1-800-332-1088).

Use the free Ankr platform or Ankr app to track your symptoms.

What special precautions should I follow?

Before receiving pembrolizumab or keytruda

  • tell your doctor about your allergies
  • tell your doctor about other intakes
  • tell your doctor about any other disease, symptom, or treatment in the past or now
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. You should not become pregnant while you are receiving pembrolizumab injection and for 4 months after your final dose. Talk to your doctor about birth control methods that will work for you.

While you are on pembrolizumab or Keytruda

  • If you become pregnant while receiving pembrolizumab injection, call your doctor immediately. Pembrolizumab injection may harm the fetus.
  • tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Your doctor may tell you not to breastfeed while receiving pembrolizumab injection, and for 4 months after your final dose.

In case of an emergency/overdose

In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can’t be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.

What dietary instructions should I follow?

Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.

Brand Names

  • Keytruda®

Last Revised – 06/20/2023, FDA updated- 28/04/2020, SG

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DISCLAIMER: No part of this content constitutes medical advice, opinion, or should be used for medical decision making without consultation with a licenced medical practitioner and under a patient-provider relationship. All information on the website is provided without any claims of accuracy. For full terms and conditions, visit this link. Content curated by the Ankr team.

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