Tecentriq (atezolizumab)

In October 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Tecentriq® (atezolizumab) for the treatment of metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in people whose disease has progressed after being treated with chemotherapy containing platinum or after targeted therapy, if their tumor has EGFR or ALK mutations. Tecentriq is the first anti-PD-L1 immunotherapy.1

Researchers have identified several pathways where cancer cells suppress the T-cell immune response. One of the pathways that is affected in some people with NSCLC is the PD-1 receptor and the molecules which bind to the receptor, PD-L1 and PD-L2. When this pathway is affected by the cancer cells, the cancer can grow and spread without being kept in check by T-cells. Tecentriq targets the PD-L1 pathway. By blocking this pathway, Tecentriq may help the body’s own immune system to fight the cancer.1,2

Taking Tecentriq

Tecentriq is given as an infusion that is administered through an IV (intravenous) line over 60 minutes. It is usually given once every three weeks. If the first infusion is well tolerated, future doses may be given over 30 minutes.2

Side Effects of Tecentriq

Tecentriq may cause side effects, and in some cases, these side effects can be serious. Any side effects should be reported to a health care professional. The most common side effects experienced by patients taking Tecentriq for NSCLC were fatigue (46% of patients), decreased appetite (35%), shortness of breath (32%), cough (30%), nausea (22%), musculoskeletal pain (22%), and constipation (20%). Less common side effects included pulmonary embolism, pneumonia, pneumothorax, bleeding ulcer, difficulty swallowing, heart attack, or large intestinal perforation, which led to death.1

Possible serious side effects with Tecentriq include lung problems (such as pneumonitis), liver problems (such as hepatitis), intestinal problems (such as colitis), hormone gland problems (especially the pituitary, thyroid, adrenal glands and pancreas), nervous system problems (such as neuropathy, meningitis and encephalitis), eye problems (such as inflammation), severe infections (such as sepsis, encephalitis, and mycobacterial infection), and severe infusion reactions.1,3

Precautions

Patients receiving Tecentriq should talk to their doctor about other medications, herbal remedies, and any supplements they are taking. Patients who are pregnant or may become pregnant during treatment should discuss their condition with their doctor prior to starting Tecentriq, as it may be hazardous to the fetus. It is not recommended for women to conceive a child while taking Tecentriq, and patients are advised to use contraception during treatment and for at least five months after treatment is completed. It is not known whether Tecentriq passes into breast milk, and patients should not breastfeed while taking Tecentriq.3

Written by: Emily Downward | Last reviewed: January 2017.
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