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Opdivo to treat Cancer? What are the side effects?

Opdivo (Nivolumab) is a type of immunotherapy drug approved to treat various kinds of cancers.

Opdivo to treat Cancer? What are the side effects?

Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses the principles of the immune system's response to fight cancer; that is, it stimulates the body's natural defenses, using substances either produced by the body or pharmaceuticals to enhance or restore immune function.

How Immunotherapy works:

  • As it helps the Immune System to better function by killing off cancer cells

  • Slowing or stopping the growth of cancer cells

  • Preventing cancer from spreading to other parts of the body

There are different types of immunotherapy treatments available. Opdivo is one of them, which does not work for all people or all types of cancers; when effective, it can lead to a favorable response.

How does Opdivo (Nivolumab) work?

Our Immune System is our body's defense shield to protect us from infectious organisms and other invaders. It is designed to attack bacteria, viruses, and even cancer cells. 

As our body fights bacteria and viruses by protecting us day in and day out from germs and microorganisms, our Immune System knows how to fight foreign cells like cancer cells without attacking healthy cells.

However, cancer cells are difficult. There is a PDL1 protein that helps our immune system cells not attack healthy cells; some cancer cells find a way to produce a large amount of PDL1 allowing the cancer cells to grow out of control by "tricking" (as if wearing a mask) the immune system to avoid being attacked as foreign and harmful cells.

For these types of cancer cells, Immunotherapy treatment is recommended because it stimulates the Immune System to recognize and fight the malignant cells.

Opdivo works by "removing that mask" from the cancer cells and blocking the activation of PDL1 to fight cancer. 

Keytruda is another medication that binds to the PD1 protein to help the immune system better destroy cancer cells, this medication is also used as a treatment for many types of cancer.

What conditions can Opdivo treat?

  • Lung cancer

  • Advanced Skin Cancer (Metastatic Malignant Melanoma)

  • Advanced adult head and neck cancer

  • Adult Bladder and Urinary Tract Lining Cancer

  • Advanced Kidney Cancer (Renal Cell Carcinoma)

  • Cancer of the lymph nodes called Hodgkin's lymphoma

  • High-Intensity Colorectal Cancer

  • Liver cell carcinoma

  • Additional Therapy for Treatment of Melanoma after Resection

  • Metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer

  • Small cell lung cancer

How is Opdivo (Nivolumab) treatment administered?

In BlueNetHospitals, we have this type of treatment administered intravenously; the duration can vary between 30 and 60 minutes. The doses to be administered will depend on what your Doctor specialist in Oncology tells you.

The dose of Nivolumab that you will be given depends on many factors, such as your current health, other health problems, and the type of cancer or disease you have. Your Doctor will determine the dose.

What are the most likely side effects of Opdivo (Nivolumab)?

The side effects of Opdivo are very common, but they are usually milder and less aggressive than the side effects found in many other types of Chemotherapy.

  • Fatigue or tiredness

  • Low sodium levels

  • Lack of air

  • Muscle pain

  • Decreased appetite

  • Cough

  • Low white blood cells

In much less frequent cases, the following side effects also occur:

  • Nausea

  • Anemia

  • Constipation

  • Colitis

  • Vomiting

  • Fever

  • Rash

  • Abdominal pain

  • Weight loss

Opdivo is a relatively new type of treatment, for which it is not clear who will work best, but despite common side effects. If you need a Second Opinion, contact us, we are here to help you!