​Nivolumab (Generic Name)

Other Names: Opdivo®

About this Drug

Nivolumab is used to treat cancer. It is given in the vein (IV).

Possible Side Effects (More Common)

  • Rash
  • Changes in your liver function. Your doctor will check your liver function as needed.
  • This drug may affect how your kidneys work. Your kidney function will be checked as needed.
  • Electrolyte changes. Your blood will be checked for electrolyte changes as needed.

Possible Side Effects (Less Common)

  • Colitis, which is swelling in the colon. The symptoms are loose bowel movements (diarrhea) stomach cramping, and sometimes blood in the bowel movements.
  • Changes in the lung tissue may happen. These changes may not last forever, and your lung tissue may go back to normal. Sometimes these changes may not be seen for many years. You may get a cough or have trouble catching your breath.

Treating Side Effects

  • If you get a rash do not put anything on it unless your doctor or nurse says you may. Keep the area around the rash clean and dry. Ask your doctor for medicine if your rash bothers you.
  • Drink 6-8 cups of fluids each day unless your doctor has told you to limit your fluid intake due to some other health problem. A cup is 8 ounces of fluid. If you throw up or have loose bowel movements, you should drink more fluids so that you do not become dehydrated (lack of water in the body from losing too much fluid).
  • Ask your doctor or nurse about medicine that is available to help stop or lessen the loose bowel movements

Food and Drug Interactions

There are no known interactions of nivolumab with food. This drug may interact with other medicines. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medicines and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs and others) that you are taking at this time. The safety and use of dietary supplements and alternative diets are often not known. Using these might affect your cancer or interfere with your treatment. Until more is known, you should not use dietary supplements or alternative diets without your cancer doctor's help.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or nurse right away if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea) 4 times in one day or diarrhea with lack of strength or a feeling of being dizzy
  • Fever of 100.5 F (38 C) or higher
  • Chills
  • Easy bleeding or bruising
  • Wheezing or trouble breathing
  • Rash or itching
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Nausea that stops you from eating or drinking
  • Signs of liver problems: dark urine, pale bowel movements,  bad stomach pain, feeling very tired and weak, unusual itching, or yellowing of the eyes or skin

Call your doctor or nurse as soon as possible if any of these symptoms happen:

  • Decreased Urine
  • Blurred vision or other changes in eyesight
  • Rash that is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • Swelling of legs, ankles, or feet
  • Weight gain of 5 pounds in one week (fluid retention)
  • Fatigue that interferes with your daily activities
  • Headache that does not go away
  • Extreme weakness that interferes with normal activities

Reproduction Concerns

  • Pregnancy warning: This drug may have harmful effects on the unborn child, so effective methods of birth control should be used during your cancer treatment and for at least 5 months after treatment has been stopped.
  • Breast feeding warning: It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk. For this reason, women should talk to their doctor about the risks and benefits of breast feeding during treatment with this drug because this drug may enter the breast milk and badly harm a breast feeding baby.

New Education Sheet: May 2015

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