Keytruda (pembrolizumab) is a prescription drug that’s used to treat certain types of cancer. The drug comes as a solution that’s given as an intravenous (IV) infusion. It’s given every 3 or 6 weeks.
Keytruda is prescribed for adults and some children to treat certain kinds of cancer, including:
- certain skin cancers:
- certain cancers of the urinary system:
- certain lymphomas:
- classic Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- certain cancers of the gastrointestinal (GI) system:
- certain cancers of the female* reproductive system:
- triple-negative breast cancer
- non-small cell lung cancer
- other solid tumors with certain markers (laboratory findings)
Keytruda belongs to a group of drugs called monoclonal antibodies. The active ingredient in Keytruda is pembrolizumab. (An active ingredient is what makes a drug work.)
Keytruda comes as a liquid solution that’s given as an IV infusion (an injection into a vein given over time).
This article describes the dosages of Keytruda, as well as its strength and how it’s given. To learn more about Keytruda, see this in-depth article.
* In this article, we use the term “female” to refer to someone’s sex assigned at birth. For information about the difference between sex and gender, see this article.
This section describes the usual dosages of Keytruda. Keep reading to learn more.
What is Keytruda’s form?
Keytruda comes as a liquid solution that a healthcare professional gives as an intravenous (IV) infusion. An IV infusion is an injection into your vein given over time.
What strength does Keytruda come in?
Keytruda comes in one strength: 100 milligrams (mg) per 4 milliliters (mL) in a single dose vial.
What are the usual dosages of Keytruda?
Your doctor will start you on a dosing schedule that’s recommended to treat your type of cancer. You’ll receive either 200 mg of Keytruda every 3 weeks or 400 mg every 6 weeks. Your doctor will tell you how many doses you can expect to receive.
The information below describes dosages that are commonly used or recommended. But your doctor will determine the best dosage for you.
Dosage for certain cancers in adults
The table below lists typical Keytruda dosing schedules for adults. You may receive Keytruda treatment alone or with other cancer treatments such as chemotherapy. This table doesn’t include all types of cancer that can be treated with Keytruda.
|Type of cancer
|Dose every 3 weeks
|Dose every 6 weeks
|certain types of skin cancer including:
• squamous cell cancer
• Merkel cell cancer
|certain cancers of the urinary system including:
• bladder cancer
• kidney cancer*
|certain types of lymphoma including:
• classic Hodgkin’s lymphoma
• certain mediastinal tumors
|certain cancers of the gastrointestinal tract including:
• certain types of colon cancer
• stomach cancer
• esophageal cancer
• liver cancer
|certain cancers of the female† reproductive system including:
• cervical cancer
• uterine cancer*
|triple-negative breast cancer
|non-small cell lung cancer
* May be given with other cancer treatments.
† In this article, we use the term “female” to refer to someone’s sex assigned at birth. For information about the difference between sex and gender, see this article.
What’s the dosage of Keytruda for children?
Keytruda is used to treat certain types of cancer in some children. Keytruda is prescribed for children of different age ranges depending on the type of cancer.
The dosage is based on the child’s body weight in kilograms (kg). One kg equals about 2.2 pounds (lb).The dose per kg is measured in milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) and is calculated by your child’s doctor.
The table below lists some of the typical dosing schedules for children receiving Keytruda.
|Type of cancer
|Dose every 3 weeks
|Merkel cell cancer
|certain other solid tumors
Is Keytruda used long term?
Keytruda is usually prescribed for up to 2 years of treatment. Sometimes it’s prescribed a bit longer for certain types of cancer.
How long you’ll receive Keytruda depends on how your cancer responds to the drug. It can also depend on whether you experience side effects from Keytruda.
Talk with your doctor about how long you’re likely to receive Keytruda.
Keytruda comes as a liquid solution that’s given as an intravenous (IV) infusion (an injection into your vein given over time). A healthcare professional will give you the infusion slowly over 30 minutes or more. You’ll receive your infusion at a clinic or hospital every 3 weeks or every 6 weeks.
If you miss your appointment to receive Keytruda, call your doctor’s office to reschedule.
The sections above describe the usual dosages provided by the drug’s manufacturer. If your doctor recommends Keytruda for you, they’ll prescribe the dosage that’s right for you.
Talk with your doctor if you have questions or concerns about your current dosage.
Here are some examples of questions you may want to ask your doctor:
- How does the dosage of Keytruda compare with Opdivo (nivolumab)?
- If I experience side effects from Keytruda, will you decrease my dose?
- Does the cost of Keytruda depend on my dosage?
To learn more about Keytruda, see these articles:
- All About Keytruda
- Side Effects of Keytruda: What You Need to Know
- Keytruda and Cost: What You Need to Know
- Imfinzi vs. Keytruda: What You Should Know
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Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.