Avelumab is a type of immunotherapy drug that is designed to help the immune system fight cancer cells. It is used to treat certain types of cancer, including metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma, urothelial carcinoma, and renal cell carcinoma. While avelumab can be effective in treating cancer, it can also cause side effects. In this answer, we will discuss the potential side effects of avelumab treatment.
Common Side Effects of Avelumab
The most common side effects of avelumab treatment include fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, and decreased appetite. These side effects are usually mild to moderate and can be managed with over-the-counter medications. In some cases, patients may experience more severe side effects, such as anemia, fever, or infections. These side effects may require medical attention.
Avelumab can also cause skin reactions, such as rash, itching, and dry skin. In some cases, patients may develop a more severe skin reaction, such as a blistering rash or Stevens-Johnson syndrome, which is a rare but potentially life-threatening skin condition. It is important for patients to notify their healthcare provider if they experience any skin reactions while taking avelumab.
Immune-Related Adverse Events
Avelumab works by activating the immune system to attack cancer cells. However, this can also cause the immune system to attack healthy cells in the body, leading to immune-related adverse events (irAEs). IrAEs can affect any organ system in the body, including the skin, lungs, liver, and intestines.
The most common irAEs associated with avelumab treatment include pneumonitis (inflammation of the lungs), colitis (inflammation of the colon), hepatitis (inflammation of the liver), and hypothyroidism (low thyroid function). These side effects can be serious and may require treatment with immunosuppressive medications.
Avelumab is administered through an intravenous infusion, which can cause infusion reactions in some patients. Infusion reactions can include fever, chills, headache, and low blood pressure. In rare cases, infusion reactions can be more severe, causing difficulty breathing, chest pain, or anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening allergic reaction. Patients receiving avelumab should be closely monitored for infusion reactions.
Risk of Infection
Because avelumab works by activating the immune system, it can also increase the risk of infections. Patients receiving avelumab should be monitored for signs of infection, such as fever, cough, or sore throat. In some cases, patients may need to receive prophylactic antibiotics to prevent infections.
Other Potential Side Effects
In addition to the side effects mentioned above, avelumab can also cause other potential side effects, including:
Endocrine disorders: Avelumab can affect the function of the thyroid gland, leading to hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.
Neurological disorders: Rarely, avelumab can cause neurological side effects, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome or myasthenia gravis.
Eye disorders: Avelumab can cause inflammation of the eye, leading to blurred vision or other vision problems.
Kidney damage: In rare cases, avelumab can cause damage to the kidneys.
It is important for patients receiving avelumab to notify their healthcare provider if they experience any side effects or symptoms while taking the medication. Patients should also be monitored closely for potential side effects, especially during the first few weeks of treatment.
Avelumab is an immunotherapy drug that can be effective in treating certain types of cancer. However, it can also cause side effects, including skin reactions, immune-related adverse events, infusion reactions, and an increased risk of infections. Patients receiving avelumab should be closely monitored for potential side effects and should notify their healthcare provider if they experience any symptoms while taking the medication.