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Pembrolizumab in combination with Axitinib for Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma – first line


Cancer and Palliative Care

January 2018

Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is the most common type of kidney cancer. Many people with RCC show no symptoms for many years and are often diagnosed late, after the cancer has spread
(metastasised). RCC affects the lining of nephrons, which are a network of small tubules responsible for filtering waste products from blood. Symptoms include blood in urine, feeling of lump or mass in the kidney area, weight loss, raised temperature and sweating, back pain on one side (below the ribs), tiredness, loss of appetite and a general feeling of poor health.

Pembrolizumab (Keytruda®) is a type of immunotherapy that stimulates the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells. Pembrolizumab targets and blocks a protein called PD‐L1 on the surface of certain immune cells called T‐cells. Blocking the PD‐L1 protein allows the T‐cells to find and kill the cancer cells. Axitinib (Inlyta®) is already marketed for the treatment of advanced and/or metastatic RCC. Axitinib reduces the growth and spread of cancer cells by inhibiting the growth of the blood vessels that supply blood to the cancer cells. If licensed, pembrolizumab in combination with axitinib will offer an additional treatment option for patients with metastatic RCC.

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