Cancer Home > Precautions and Warnings With Ipilimumab
People who are receiving ipilimumab should know that this medication may increase the risk for certain complications, such as hepatitis, nerve damage, and eye problems. Also, this medicine may not be safe for people with a history of an organ transplant, a weakened immune system, or liver disease. Other warnings and precautions with ipilimumab apply to people with certain allergies or who are taking certain medications.
What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?Talk with your healthcare provider prior to receiving ipilimumab (Yervoy™) if you have:
- Liver disease, such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, or liver failure
- A weakened immune system due to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), or any other cause
- An autoimmune disease (a condition in which the immune system attacks the body), such as lupus, ulcerative colitis, sarcoidosis, or Crohn's disease
- Had an organ transplant
- Any allergies, including to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
- Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant.
You should also tell your healthcare provider about all other medications you are taking, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Specific Ipilimumab Precautions and WarningsSome warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to receiving ipilimumab include the following:
- This medication can cause autoimmune reactions in which the immune system attacks the tissues of the body. These reactions can lead to serious side effects involving the intestines, liver, skin, nerves, eyes, hormone glands, or other parts of the body. You should know that some of these side effects occurred weeks or months after treatment ended.
- Ipilimumab can cause inflammation of the intestines, which can lead to perforation (a tear or hole in the intestines) and possibly death. Contact your healthcare provider right away if you experience any signs of this serious problem, such as:
- Abdominal (stomach) pain
- Stool that contains mucus or blood.
- This medication may cause liver inflammation (hepatitis), which could lead to liver failure. Your healthcare provider will monitor your liver function with blood tests before each ipilimumab dosage. Call your healthcare provider if you have signs of liver problems, such as:
- Yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes (jaundice)
- Dark urine
- Extreme tiredness
- Pain in the upper-right area of the abdomen (stomach).
- There have been reports of life-threatening skin reactions occurring in people receiving ipilimumab. Some of these reactions have occurred up to 17 weeks after starting this medication. Contact your healthcare provider right away if you develop any skin problems, such as:
- Any kind of rash
- Peeling or blistering skin
- Sores in your mouth.
- Ipilimumab has been reported to cause nerve damage, including serious neurological conditions that can lead to paralysis, muscle weakness, and even death. Let your healthcare provider know if you develop any signs of nerve problems, such as:
- Weakness on one or both sides of the body
- Numbness, tingling, or pricking sensations in the hands or feet.
- Ipilimumab can cause inflammation of certain glands in the body, including the pituitary, adrenal, and thyroid glands. If the glands become inflamed, they may not work properly, and could release too many or not enough hormones. Your healthcare provider will monitor your thyroid function with a simple blood test before each dose. Tell your healthcare provider if you develop any signs of a hormone imbalance, such as:
- Unusual headaches
- Changes in your mood
- Dizziness or fainting
- Changes in bowel habits
- Feel cold all the time.
- There have been rare reports of eye problems in people receiving ipilimumab, including inflammation of the uvea (the middle layer of the eye), eyelids, and conjunctiva (the membrane lining the eyelids). Let your healthcare provider know if you have any vision problems, such as:
- Blurred vision
- Eye pain
- Eye redness.
- Ipilimumab may react with a few other medications (see Drug Interactions With Ipilimumab for more information).
- It is unknown if ipilimumab passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to receiving this drug (see Yervoy and Breastfeeding).
- This product is a pregnancy Category C medication. This means that it may not be safe for use during pregnancy, although the full risks are currently unknown (see Yervoy and Pregnancy).