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Pembrolizumab for renal cell carcinoma – adjuvant therapy post nephrectomy


Cancer and Palliative Care

May 2020

Pembrolizumab is in clinical development for the adjuvant treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC), post nephrectomy (the surgical removal of a kidney). RCC is the most common form of cancer that originates in the kidney. It may occur due to the mutation of cells in the kidney’s filtering system. RCC often has few symptoms, so may be diagnosed in advanced stages, when the cancer has spread to other organs.

Pembrolizumab is administered by intravenous infusion and works by improving the activity of white blood cells (T-cells) thereby increasing the ability of the immune system to kill cancer cells. Given as an adjuvant therapy, it is hoped pembrolizumab will help clear the remaining cancer cells after surgery to remove the cancerous kidney. If licenced, pembrolizumab will offer the first adjuvant therapy for patientswith renal cell carcinoma post nephrectomy.

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