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Nivolumab (By injection)

Nivolumab (nye-VOL-ue-mab)

Treats cancer, including bladder, colon, rectum, skin, lung, kidney, liver, or head and neck cancer. Also treats classical Hodgkin lymphoma.

Brand Name(s):


There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

This medicine is not right for everyone. You should not receive it if you had an allergic reaction to nivolumab, or if you are pregnant.

How to Use This Medicine:


  • Your doctor will prescribe your dose and schedule. This medicine is given through a needle placed in a vein. It must be given slowly, so the needle will have to remain in place for at least 30 minutes. The infusion will be given every 2 or 4 weeks (when given alone) or 3 weeks (when given with ipilimumab).
  • You will receive this medicine while you are in a hospital or cancer treatment center. A nurse or other trained health professional will give you this medicine.
  • This medicine should come with a Medication Guide. Ask your pharmacist for a copy if you do not have one.
  • Missed dose: This medicine needs to be given on a fixed schedule. If you miss a dose, call your doctor, home health caregiver, or treatment clinic for instructions.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid:

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • It is not safe to take this medicine during pregnancy. It could harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant. Use an effective form of birth control during treatment with this medicine and for at least 5 months after your last dose.
  • Do not breastfeed while you are being treated with this medicine and for at least 5 months after your last dose.
  • Tell your doctor if you have kidney disease, liver disease, lung or breathing problems, Crohn disease, diabetes, digestion or bowel problems, immune system problems, lupus, or thyroid problems.
  • This medicine may cause the following problems because of the way it affects your immune system:
    • Severe inflammation, including pneumonitis (lungs), colitis (bowels), hepatitis (liver), nephritis (kidneys), or encephalitis (around the brain)
    • Thyroid problems, or similar problems with other glands or body systems (including the nervous system)
    • Changes in blood sugar levels
    • Serious skin reactions
    • Infusion reactions, which could be severe
    • Increase risk for possible organ transplant rejection
  • Medicines used to treat cancer are very strong and can have many side effects. Before receiving this medicine, make sure you understand all the risks and benefits. It is important for you to work closely with your doctor during your treatment.
  • Your doctor will do lab tests at regular visits to check on the effects of this medicine. Keep all appointments.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine:

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Blistering, peeling, red skin rash
  • Bloody or cloudy urine, decrease in how much or how often you urinate, swelling of your face, feet, or lower legs
  • Confusion, seizures, stiff neck, headache, sleepiness
  • Cough, chest tightness or pain, trouble breathing
  • Dark urine or pale stools, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach pain, yellow skin or eyes
  • Diarrhea that may contain blood, severe stomach pain, constipation
  • Fever, chills, dizziness, or skin rash while receiving the infusion
  • Increased hunger or thirst, dry mouth, sweating
  • Severe joint or muscle pain
  • Weakness, headache, tiredness, weight changes, feeling cold, changes in mood or behavior

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Mild diarrhea, constipation
  • Pain, itching, burning, swelling, or a lump under your skin where the needle is placed

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Last Updated: 5/1/2020

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