This page contains brief information about pembrolizumab (Keytruda) and a collection of links to more information about the use of this drug, research results, and ongoing clinical trials.
Use in Cancer
Pembrolizumab is approved to treat:
- Cervical cancer that is recurrent or metastatic. It is used in patients whose cancer has the PD-L1 protein and whose disease got worse during or after chemotherapy.¹
- Gastric (stomach) cancer or gastroesophageal junction cancer that is recurrent and either locally advanced or metastatic. It is used in patients whose cancer has the PD-L1 protein and whose disease got worse during or after two or more types of treatment including a fluoropyrimidine and platinum chemotherapy and, in some cases, HER2/neu targeted therapy.¹
- Hepatocellular carcinoma (a type of liver cancer) in patients who have been treated with sorafenib.¹
- Hodgkin lymphoma in adults and children. It is used in patients whose disease is refractory (does not respond to treatment) or has relapsed after at least three other types of treatment.¹
- Melanoma. It is used in:
- Merkel cell carcinoma in adults and children. It is used in patients whose disease is recurrent and either locally advanced or metastatic.¹
- Microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) or mismatch repair deficient (dMMR) cancer that is metastatic and cannot be removed by surgery. It is used in adults and children for:
- Solid tumors that have gotten worse after other treatment or that cannot be treated with other therapies.¹
- Colorectal cancer that has gotten worse after treatment with a fluoropyrimidine, oxaliplatin, and irinotecan hydrochloride.¹
- Non-small cell lung cancer that has metastasized. It is used:
- With pemetrexed and platinum chemotherapy as first-line treatment in patients with nonsquamous disease that does not have a mutation in the EGFR gene or ALK gene.
- With carboplatin and either paclitaxel or paclitaxel albumin-stabilized nanoparticle formulation as first-line treatment for squamous disease.
- Alone as first-line treatment in patients with stage III disease whose cancer has the PD-L1 protein and does not have a mutation in the EGFR gene or ALK gene. It is used in patients who cannot be treated with surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy.
- Alone in patients whose cancer has the PD-L1 protein and got worse during or after treatment with platinum chemotherapy. Patients whose cancer has EGFR or ALK gene mutations should receive pembrolizumab only if their disease got worse after treatment with an FDA-approved therapy for these mutations.
- Renal cell carcinoma (a type of kidney cancer) that is advanced. It is used with axitinib as first-line therapy.¹
- Primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma. It is used in adults and children whose disease is refractory or has relapsed after at least two other therapies.¹
- Squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck that has metastasized or recurred (come back) in patients whose disease got worse during or after treatment with platinum chemotherapy.¹
- Urothelial carcinoma (a type of bladder cancer) that is locally advanced or has metastasized. It is used in:
- Patients whose cancer has the PD-L1 protein and cannot be treated with cisplatin.
- Patients whose cancer cannot be treated with platinum chemotherapy or has gotten worse during or after treatment with platinum chemotherapy.¹
¹This use is approved under FDA’s Accelerated Approval Program. As a condition of approval, confirmatory trial(s) must show that pembrolizumab provides a clinical benefit in these patients.
Pembrolizumab is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer.
More About Pembrolizumab
Definition from the NCI Drug Dictionary - Detailed scientific definition and other names for this drug.
MedlinePlus Information on Pembrolizumab - A lay language summary of important information about this drug that may include the following:
- warnings about this drug,
- what this drug is used for and how it is used,
- what you should tell your doctor before using this drug,
- what you should know about this drug before using it,
- other drugs that may interact with this drug, and
- possible side effects.
Drugs are often studied to find out if they can help treat or prevent conditions other than the ones they are approved for. This patient information sheet applies only to approved uses of the drug. However, much of the information may also apply to unapproved uses that are being studied.
Research Results and Related Resources
Clinical Trials Accepting Patients
Find Clinical Trials for Pembrolizumab - Check for trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials now accepting patients.