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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Ipilimumab (Yervoy®)


Brand Name: Yervoy®

Ipilimumab is used in the treatment of melanoma, a type of skin cancer.

Ipilimumab is a type of monoclonal antibody. This medicine is designed to boost the immune system. Normally, a protein called CTLA-4 helps to regulate the immune system by keeping its cells in check. Ipilimumab blocks the activity of CTLA-4, which frees the immune system to act against melanoma cells in the body.

This medication is given as an infusion into a vein (intravenously). Each infusion usually takes about 90 minutes and is given once every 3 weeks for about 12 weeks (4 doses total). The exact dose is based on a patient’s body weight. Doses may need to be spread out further than 3 weeks due to minor immune-related side effects. If side effects are very serious, the drug may need to be stopped.

Ipilimumab side effects

To prevent problematic interactions between ipilimumab and other drugs, be sure to tell your doctor if you are allergic to any medications, and what other medications and supplements you are currently taking. You should also inform your doctor if you have or ever had an autoimmune disease (such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, lupus, or sarcoidosis), liver tumor, liver disease, or kidney disease, if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, or if you are breastfeeding. You should not receive any vaccinations (immunizations) during or after treatment with this drug without your doctor’s approval.

Because this drug leaves the immune system unregulated, patients taking ipilimumab are at risk of side effects resulting from the immune system attacking parts of the body other than melanoma cancer cells. These side effects can range from mild to life-threatening. Such reactions can include:

  • Inflammation in the liver
  • Severe skin reactions
  • Inflammation of the nerves
  • Low hormone levels
  • Inflammation of the eyes
  • Allergic reactions

Other possible side effects of ipilimumab may include:

  • Feeling tired
  • Skin rash
  • Itching
  • Diarrhea

Please note that this is not a comprehensive list. Patients may experience additional effects not mentioned above.

At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), your team of cancer experts will explain each of the side effects of ipilimumab with you in detail, as well as the side effects and expectations of all other medications planned as part of your individualized treatment plan.

Ipilimumab for cancer treatment

Ipilimumab may be used in the treatment of:

  • Melanoma that cannot be removed with surgery or has spread to other parts of the body

At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), our integrative approach to cancer treatment works to fight your disease on all fronts and ensures that you remain at the center of everything we do. We encourage participation from both you and your family to make certain you are comfortable with all decisions made regarding your treatment.

The information provided here is for educational purposes only. In no way should it be considered as offering medical advice. Cancer Treatment Centers of America assumes no responsibility for how this material is used. Please check with a physician if you suspect you are ill. Also note that while Cancer Treatment Centers of America frequently updates its contents, medical information changes rapidly. Therefore, some information may be out of date.