Immunology is a new class of drugs. The FDA approved the first drug in 2011. Now there are myriads of them.
Keytruda or pembrolizumab, like other drugs in this category, works with the immune system to help detect and fight cancer. Each works with different kinds of melanoma and boosts the immune system in a different way.
In this case, cancer may use the PD-1 pathway to hide from the T cells the immune system sends out. Keytruda blocks this pathway so the T cells can detect and fight cancer cells.
Unfortunately, the immune system can also attack normal cells. This can lead to side effects. The most common are fatigue, cough, nausea, itching, rash, etc. Compared to other kinds of drugs, these side effects are relatively mild.
BTW, Keytruda is the drug I’ve taken for over a year with only fatigue and rash showing themselves. The last CT scan showed NO tumors. Hooray for modern medicine!
In future posts, I’ll describe other drugs and how they work. Stay tuned!