Immune checkpoint inhibitors, such as Keytruda (pembrolizumab) and Tecentriq (atezolizumab), can cause a range of side effects. These side effects are generally related to the activation of the immune system and can range from mild to severe.
You may experience side effects at any time during your treatment or even months after treatment has finished. Some side effects go away within a few days or weeks and some may be longer lasting.
The chances of getting these side effects also differs between the medicines:
- Keytruda has been associated with a higher chance of inflammation of the lung (pneumonitis) than Tecentriq.
- Tecentriq has been associated with a higher risk of liver problems.
Note: To monitor your side effects, you'll need monitoring and blood tests to check your thyroid, liver, kidneys and blood before you start treatment and regularly while you are receiving treatment.
|Common side effects
Report any side effect to your oncology team right away even if they appear mild. Do not manage these side effects on your own:
- feeling very tired and weak (fatigue)
- feeling sick (nausea)
- runny poo (diarrhoea)
- skin rash, itching
- decreased appetite
- joint pain
|Rare, serious side effects
|In some people, these side effects could be life threatening. If you have any of the side effects mentioned below OR any new or worsening symptoms, contact your healthcare team or Healthline on 0800 611 116 straight away:
- New or worsening cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain (signs of an inflamed lung or heart).
- Blood in your poo, severe pain in your tummy or back (signs of an inflamed gut or pancreas).
- Weight loss, weight gain, changes in mood, changes in eyesight and vision, increased sensitivity to cold or heat, slow or rapid heart rate, hair loss (signs of thyroid problems).
- Neck stiffness, headache, vomiting, eye sensitivity to light, confusion and sleepiness (signs of inflammation of the brain or spinal cord).
- Sore back or pain passing urine (pee), cloudy pee, or swelling of your ankles (signs of inflamed kidneys).
- Muscle weakness, numbness or tingling in hands and feet (signs of problems with your nerves).
- Swelling or burning feeling on your skin, ulcers in your mouth or lips, genital or anal areas, purple spots on the skin, blisters or peeling (signs of a severe skin reaction).
- Yellow eyes or skin, dark pee, pain or discomfort in the tummy area (signs of liver problems).
Note: This is not a full list of side effects and side effects can vary in different people. If you don't know whether your symptoms are side effects of the medicine, contact your healthcare team straight away.