Durvalumab, or Imfinzi

Durvalumab, or Imfinzi

This patient-friendly article is about chemotherapy drug, Durvalumab also known by its trade name Imfinzi; it is used in treating urothelial carcinoma (bladder cancer) and stage III non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Durvalumab was first approved by the FDA in May 2017 for its use in treating bladder cancer and on 16th February 2018 it received its approval for treatment of stage III non-small cell lung cancer.

To be eligible to use this cancer drug, the patient with urothelial carcinoma must have disease progressed during, within 12 months of neoadjuvant or adjuvant treatment or after platinum-containing chemotherapy.

Approved by

the Medical Board. 

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For patients with NSCLC, the disease must be unresectable stage III NSCLC and has not progressed following concurrent platinum-containing chemotherapy and radiation therapy. 

Durvalumab is a monoclonal antibody that inhibits the binding of PD-1 and PD-L1 (the PD-1 pathway). The PD-1 pathway enables cancer cells to ‘ hide’ from the immune system known as T-cells. When the PD-1 pathway is inhibited it means that T-cells are no longer have suppressed anti-tumour function and is able to attack cancer cells. 

The medication is usually given to patients with bladder cancer and non-small cell lung cancer every 2 weeks with a dosage of 10 mg/kg IV. Patients with non-small cell lung cancer may be restricted from receiving the medication for a maximum of 12 months. 

Common side effects are fatigue, nausea, hair loss, swelling of face and body, fever, bladder pain, muscle stiffness, and unusual weight loss and gain. 

Precautions: Because of the mechanism of the drug altering the immune system of the body to attack the cancer cells, there’s a possibility that it could attack the healthy tissues hence affecting multiple organs and becomes fatal. These potential adverse reactions could be:

  • Adverse reactions of the skin
  • Complications in the lungs, liver, colon, hormones and/or kidneys
  • damaging the embryo (embryo-fetal toxicity) if the medical drug is used during pregnancy. 

Go to: 10 ways to improve your chemotherapy success and reduce side-effects

Other articles that you may find interesting are:

  1. A diet for Chemotherapy
  2. Immunotherapy overview
  3. A to Z Guide to Complementary Therapies

Go to: Return to the CANCERactive drug list


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