If you’ve been diagnosed with a certain type of cancer, your doctor may discuss treatment with Opdivo.

It’s a prescription drug that’s prescribed for adults in certain cases to treat:

Opdivo is also used to treat a certain type of colorectal cancer in children ages 12 years and older.

For more information about these types of cancer and how Opdivo treats them, see the sections below called:

Opdivo basics

Opdivo comes as a liquid solution. You’ll receive the drug at your doctor’s office or a clinic as an intravenous (IV) infusion. (IV infusions are injections given slowly into your vein over time.)

The active ingredient in Opdivo is nivolumab. It’s an immunotherapy drug, which means it works with your immune system to fight off cancer cells.

Opdivo is also a biologic drug. Biologics are made from living organisms.

Opdivo is not available in a biosimilar form. A biosimilar drug is like a generic drug. But generics are exact copies of active drug ingredients, and biosimilars are made from living cells. Nivolumab only comes as the brand-name drug Opdivo.

Read on to learn about Opdivo’s uses, side effects, cost, and more.

Your doctor will explain how you’ll receive Opdivo. They’ll also explain how much you’ll be given and how often. Below are commonly used dosages, but the dosage you receive will be determined by your doctor.

Receiving Opdivo

Opdivo comes as a liquid solution in single-dose vials.

You’ll receive Opdivo at your doctor’s office or a clinic as an intravenous (IV) infusion. IV infusions are injections given slowly into your vein over time.

You’ll typically receive IV infusions of Opdivo over about 30 minutes for each dose.

Dosage

Your dosage of Opdivo depends on:

  • your age, weight, and overall health
  • the condition being treated
  • how often you’re receiving Opdivo
  • other medications you may be taking with Opdivo

Opdivo may be given once every 2, 3, 4, or 6 weeks. But it’ll depend on the type of cancer being treated and whether Opdivo is given with other drugs.

Children receiving Opdivo may be given a dose once every 2 or 4 weeks. This will be based on their body weight and whether Opdivo is given with another drug.

Your doctor can tell you more about your dosage of Opdivo and how often you’ll receive the drug.

Receiving Opdivo with other drugs

Opdivo may be used alone or with other medications or treatments for cancer. This will depend on the type and stage of the cancer.

Some other drugs or treatments that may be given with Opdivo include:

Your doctor can provide more information about your cancer treatment plan. They’ll let you know about different medications or treatments that can be used for your cancer.

Receiving Opdivo with Yervoy

Like Opdivo, Yervoy is a biologic drug that’s an immunotherapy treatment.

Opdivo may be used in adults, either alone or with Yervoy, to treat certain types of cancer. These cancers include certain skin cancers, lung cancers, kidney cancer, and liver cancer.

Additionally, Opdivo may be given with Yervoy to adults and children ages 12 years and older for a certain type of colorectal cancer.

You’ll likely receive doses of both Opdivo and Yervoy on the same days. They’re both given by IV infusion at a doctor’s office or clinic. Your doctor can tell you more about how you’ll receive these drugs.

Research showed that Opdivo and Yervoy together were more effective in treating certain types of cancer when Opdivo alone wasn’t effective.

Ask your doctor for more information about the benefits and risks of taking Opdivo and Yervoy together for cancer treatment.

Questions about receiving Opdivo

Here are answers to some common questions about receiving doses of Opdivo.

  • What if I miss a dose of Opdivo? You’ll get doses of Opdivo at your doctor’s office or a clinic. Your doctor’s office will schedule appointments for these treatments. If you miss an appointment, call your doctor’s office as soon as you remember. The office staff will help you reschedule. You might consider using a reminder tool so you don’t miss appointments. It’s important to have steady levels of Opdivo in your body so the drug can work to treat your cancer.
  • Will I need to use Opdivo long term? You may receive Opdivo long term. Your doctor will discuss your treatment and they’ll recommend if you should take this treatment long term. How long you may receive Opdivo depends on:
    • the type and stage of your cancer
    • other treatment you’re getting with Opdivo
    • whether Opdivo is working to treat your cancer
    • if you’re having any serious side effects from Opdivo
  • Should I take Opdivo with food? Opdivo is given by IV infusion at your doctor’s office or a clinic. The drug may cause nausea and vomiting, so ask your doctor about when you should eat or drink around receiving doses. This may help lessen these side effects of the drug.
  • How long does Opdivo take to work? Opdivo starts to work soon after you receive a dose. But keep in mind, it may take several weeks to months for the drug to be effective for your type of cancer. Your doctor will order blood tests regularly to see if Opdivo is working to treat your cancer.
Questions for your doctor

You may have questions about Opdivo and your treatment plan. It’s important to discuss all your concerns with your doctor.

Here are a few tips that might help guide your discussion:

  • Before your appointment, write down questions such as:
    • How will Opdivo affect my body, mood, or lifestyle?
  • Bring someone with you to your appointment if doing so will help you feel more comfortable.
  • If you don’t understand something related to your condition or treatment, ask your doctor to explain it to you.

Remember, your doctor and other healthcare professionals are available to help you. And they want you to get the best care possible. So don’t be afraid to ask questions or offer feedback on your treatment.

Like most drugs, Opdivo may cause mild or serious side effects. The lists below describe some of the more common side effects. These lists don’t include all possible side effects.

Keep in mind that side effects of a drug can depend on:

  • your age
  • other health conditions you have
  • other medications you may be taking

Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about the potential side effects of Opdivo. They can also suggest ways to help reduce side effects.

Mild side effects

Here’s a list of some of the mild side effects that Opdivo can cause. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist, or read Opdivo’s medication guide.

Mild side effects of Opdivo that have been reported include:

Mild side effects of many drugs may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. But if they become bothersome, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

* For more information about this side effect, see the “Side effect focus” section below.

Serious side effects

Serious side effects from Opdivo can occur, but they aren’t common. If you have serious side effects from Opdivo, call your doctor right away. However, if you think you’re having a medical emergency, you should call 911 or your local emergency number.

Serious side effects of Opdivo that have been reported include:

* For more information about this side effect, see the “Side effect focus” section below.

Side effect focus

Learn more about some of the side effects Opdivo may cause.

Joint, muscle, or back pain

Opdivo may cause joint, muscle, and back pain. These are more common side effects of the drug.

Your risk for these side effects may be greater if you’re receiving other drugs that also cause them.

The risk of joint, back, or muscle pain may also be greater depending on the condition you’re treating. For example, some people with lung cancer may have back pain as a symptom of their condition. And Opdivo is used to treat a certain type of lung cancer.

Inflammatory arthritis is a less common side effect of Opdivo and other immunotherapy drugs. With inflammatory arthritis, you have joint pain and swelling due to your immune system attacking your own tissue. In some cases, inflammatory arthritis may continue even after you’ve stopped treatment with Opdivo.

What might help

If you have joint, muscle, or back discomfort with Opdivo, tell your doctor. They can check to see what’s causing your symptoms. And they can suggest ways to manage your pain.

For mild pain, this might include using over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

For more severe pain, your doctor may discuss other options, including corticosteroids or stopping Opdivo treatment.

Liver damage

In some cases, Opdivo may cause your immune system to attack healthy cells in your body, leading to inflammation. This could include the cells of your liver. Serious inflammation in your liver can cause hepatitis.

Your risk for this type of immune system reaction may be higher if you take ipilimumab (Yervoy) together with Opdivo.

Possible symptoms of liver damage include:

  • dark urine
  • reduced appetite
  • jaundice (yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes)
  • tiredness
  • pain on the right side of your belly
  • severe nausea or vomiting
  • easily bleeding or bruising

What might help

Before starting Opdivo, tell your doctor if you’ve had hepatitis or other liver problems in the past. Your doctor may check to see how your liver is functioning. They’ll also closely monitor you while you receive Opdivo. This could help you avoid serious immune-related problems with treatment.

Call your doctor right away if you have symptoms of liver damage while taking Opdivo. If you have severe liver problems with Opdivo, your doctor may have you stop taking the drug and they’ll treat your liver condition.

Before you take Opdivo, your doctor will discuss the risks and benefits of the drug. They can talk with you about possible immune-related reactions that may happen.

Skin rash

Opdivo can cause different types of skin rash. This may be a common side effect of immunotherapy drugs, including Opdivo.

It’s possible to get a rash from Opdivo as part of an infusion reaction. These reactions may happen when you receive medications as injections into your vein.

Additionally, some people may have an allergic reaction to Opdivo, which can also cause a skin rash. See the “Allergic reaction” section just below for more information.

Opdivo can sometimes cause a severe skin rash called Stevens-Johnson syndrome. With this condition, you may have painful sores on your body, mouth, genitals, and eyes. This reaction is extremely rare, but it can be life threatening and need to be treated in a hospital.

Your risk for skin rash with Opdivo may be higher if you receive other drugs with it that also have this side effect. And your risk will vary depending on the condition you’re treating.

What might help

Your doctor will monitor you for skin reactions while you’re receiving doses of Opdivo. If you have an infusion reaction, your doctor may slow, pause, or stop the infusion. This depends on the severity of your reaction.

If you develop a skin rash after receiving a dose of Opdivo, call your doctor. They may suggest treatment with an over-the-counter medication if your rash is mild.

If your rash is severe, your doctor may stop your Opdivo treatment and manage your skin reaction. And they’ll tell you if it’s safe to continue taking Opdivo.

If you have a severe allergic reaction or symptoms that seem life threatening, call 911 or your local emergency number. Or go to an emergency medical center right away.

Ask your doctor for more information about the risk of skin reactions with Opdivo treatment.

Allergic reaction

Some people may have an allergic reaction to Opdivo.

Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:

  • skin rash
  • itchiness
  • flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)

A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet. They can also include swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat, which can cause trouble breathing.

Call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction to Opdivo. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number.

Costs of prescription drugs can vary depending on many factors. These factors include what your insurance plan covers and which pharmacy you use. To find current prices for Opdivo in your area, visit GoodRx.com.

If you have questions about how to pay for your prescription, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. You can also visit the Opdivo manufacturer’s website to see if they have support options.

Below are answers to some commonly asked questions about Opdivo.

How does Opdivo work?

Opdivo is an immunotherapy drug, which means it works with your immune system to fight off cancer cells.

It belongs to a group of drugs called programmed death receptor-1 (PD-1) inhibitors. PD-1 inhibitors are called immune checkpoint inhibitors. They work with your immune system to inhibit (block) PD-1 proteins.

This helps your immune system recognize cancer cells and stop the cancer cells from growing or spreading. This is Opdivo’s mechanism of action.

What happens when you stop Opdivo?

When you’ll stop receiving Opdivo depends on the type and stage of your cancer and how your body responds to treatment.

If your cancer goes into remission (a state when it’s not causing symptoms), your doctor may discuss stopping Opdivo treatment. But they’ll continue to monitor you after you stop the drug to make sure your cancer doesn’t come back.

If you have serious side effects with Opdivo, your doctor may stop or pause your treatment. This could be temporary or permanent, depending on whether the side effect is serious. If your treatment is stopped, your doctor will monitor your cancer and they may have you start a different treatment.

It’s important to follow your doctor’s recommendations while you’re receiving Opdivo. They’ll tell you when your treatment will be stopped based on your body’s response. Ask your doctor for more information on what you can expect when you stop Opdivo.

What is Opdivo’s success rate in treating cancer?

Opdivo’s success rate for cancer treatment depends on the stage and type of your cancer. It can also depend on individual factors, such as:

  • your age and genetics
  • other health conditions you have
  • how your body responds to Opdivo
  • other drugs or treatments you’re receiving

Your doctor will monitor how your body is responding to Opdivo. And they’ll tailor your treatment to benefit you.

In studies of Opdivo, the drug had different rates of treatment success depending on the type of cancer being treated and other things involved.

If you’d like to know more about Opdivo’s effectiveness for your type of cancer, talk with your doctor.

Is Opdivo used for pancreatic, ovarian, prostate, or breast cancer? And does it treat brain metastasis?

No, Opdivo isn’t approved to treat these types of cancer. But your doctor may prescribe Opdivo off-label for them. With off-label use, a doctor prescribes a drug for conditions other than its approved uses.

Research is underway to learn about Opdivo’s effectiveness for these types of cancers. For example:

  • For pancreatic cancer, several studies are ongoing to see the effectiveness of nivolumab (the active drug in Opdivo), either alone or with other treatments. A 2020 study showed that treatment with immunotherapy and another type of therapy improved people’s overall survival. (Opdivo is a type of immunotherapy.)
  • For ovarian cancer, a 2020 study looked at using nivolumab, either alone or with ipilimumab (Yervoy). This study found that the two drugs together had a better outcome than nivolumab alone. But more research is needed to know if Opdivo is effective for ovarian cancer.
  • For prostate cancer, a recent study showed that nivolumab was effective. But more research is needed to learn about Opdivo’s effectiveness for this type of cancer.
  • For breast cancer, studies have shown immunotherapy drugs may be effective in certain situations. More research is ongoing to learn about the drugs’ effectiveness for breast cancer.
  • For brain metastasis, a small study found that nivolumab may help in people who have brain metastasis related to non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). (Brain metastasis refers to cancer that’s spread from one area of the body to the brain.) Brain metastasis is a common complication of NSCLC and is difficult to treat. More research is needed to learn about the effectiveness of immunotherapy for brain metastases.

Your doctor can provide more information about using Opdivo for these forms of cancer. Your recommended treatment will depend on the specific type and stage of your cancer and your overall health.

Does Opdivo cause hair loss?

Hair loss is a rare side effect of Opdivo. But it’s also possible to have hair loss from certain side effects of Opdivo or other factors. These factors include:

  • the type of cancer you have
  • other cancer treatments you’re taking, such as chemotherapy, which may cause hair loss
  • other health conditions you have, such as hypothyroidism, which is also a side effect of Opdivo

If you’re concerned about hair loss with Opdivo, talk with your doctor. They can check your hormone levels and manage them, if needed.

How does Opdivo compare with the alternative drug Stivarga?

Similar to Opdivo, Stivarga is used to treat certain types of colorectal cancer and liver cancer. But it’s also used for gastrointestinal stromal tumors. These are tumors in your gastrointestinal tract that may affect your esophagus, stomach, or bowel. Opdivo is also used for other types of cancer, which are listed in the “What is Opdivo?” section above.

Stivarga and Opdivo have different active ingredients. Stivarga contains the active drug regorafenib and Opdivo contains the active drug nivolumab. These medications belong to different groups of drugs. For instance:

  • Stivarga belongs to a group of drugs called tyrosine kinase inhibitors. It works by slowing the growth of cancer cells and killing certain types of cells that help cancer cells grow.
  • Opdivo belongs to a group of drugs called programmed death receptor-1 (PD-1) inhibitors. It’s an immunotherapy drug, which means it works with your immune system to fight off cancer cells.

Stivarga isn’t approved for use in children. But Opdivo may be used for a certain type of colorectal cancer in children ages 12 years and older.

Stivarga comes as tablets you’ll swallow, while Opdivo comes as a solution that’s given as an injection into your vein.

You can learn more about Stivarga by viewing the manufacturer’s patient information. Read on to find out more about Opdivo. For more information about Stivarga and Opdivo and how they compare for your type of cancer, ask your doctor. They can tell you about the benefits and risks of these drugs and their effectiveness.

Opdivo is used to treat a certain type of lung cancer. In addition, Opdivo is used for a type of skin cancer called melanoma and some other cancers. See the sections below called “Is Opdivo used for melanoma?” and “Is Opdivo used for other conditions?” for more information.

Opdivo is used to treat non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). This is a type of lung cancer that affects certain cells in your lungs. Opdivo is used for NSCLC that has spread from the lung to other areas of the body.

It’s used in adults with NSCLC:

  • as a first-choice treatment together with ipilimumab (Yervoy). For this use, it’s given for cancer that doesn’t have specific gene mutations in people who have a certain protein called programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1). (Gene mutations are abnormal changes in a gene.)
  • that has spread or gotten worse during or after treatment with a certain type of chemotherapy. Before Opdivo is given for this use, the cancer should have been treated with an approved treatment if it has certain gene mutations.
  • as a first-choice treatment for cancer that doesn’t have certain gene mutations and has spread or come back after other treatment. For this use, Opdivo is given together with Yervoy and two cycles of a certain type of chemotherapy.

It’s important to note that Opdivo isn’t used to treat small cell lung cancer (SCLC). SCLC is a more serious form of lung cancer. If you have this type of lung cancer, ask your doctor about its treatment options.

Opdivo helps your immune system recognize cancer cells and stop the cancer cells from growing or spreading. You can learn more about Opdivo’s use for NSCLC in this article.

Opdivo is used in some cases to treat melanoma, which is a form of skin cancer.

In addition, Opdivo is used for a type of lung cancer and some other cancers. See the section above called “Is Opdivo used for lung cancer?” and the section below called “Is Opdivo used for other conditions?” for more information.

Melanoma affects skin cells that make melanin, which is the pigment that gives your skin its color.

Specifically, Opdivo is used for melanoma:

  • that has spread from where it started or can’t be removed by surgery. For this use, Opdivo is given either alone or together with ipilimumab (Yervoy).
  • as treatment that follows a first treatment. In this case, Opdivo is used to prevent melanoma from coming back. It’s given for melanoma that had spread to lymph nodes or other areas of the body and had been removed with surgery.

Opdivo helps your immune system recognize cancer cells and stop the cancer cells from growing or spreading.

In addition to lung cancer and melanoma, which are described above, Opdivo is used to treat several other cancers. See the sections above called “Is Opdivo used for lung cancer?” and “Is Opdivo used for melanoma?” for more information.

Opdivo is used to treat the following cancers:

  • Renal cell carcinoma (RCC). RCC is a type of kidney cancer. Opdivo is used in adults with RCC:
    • as a first-choice treatment in certain people with kidney cancer that has spread to other areas of the body. The drug may be used alone or in combination with ipilimumab (Yervoy).
    • as a first-choice treatment together with cabozantinib (Cabometyx) for kidney cancer that has spread to other areas of the body.
    • for kidney cancer that has grown or spread to other areas of the body in people who have tried certain drugs that block blood vessel growth in tumors. Examples of these types of drugs include everolimus (Afinitor) and sunitinib (Sutent).
  • Esophageal cancer. Esophageal cancer affects the esophagus, which is a muscular tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. Opdivo is used in adults:
    • with cancer in the esophagus or the area where the stomach and esophagus meet that has already been removed with surgery. For this use, the drug is given when cancer remains after being treated with chemoradiation therapy (a type of treatment that combines chemotherapy and radiation therapy).
    • with cancer affecting squamous cells in the esophagus. It’s given for cancer that can’t be removed with surgery and has returned after treatment or has spread to other areas. Opdivo is given after treatment with certain types of chemotherapy.
  • Bladder cancer.* Bladder cancer affects the bladder, which is where the body holds urine. Opdivo is used to treat a type of bladder cancer called urothelial carcinoma, which is the most common type of bladder cancer. Opdivo is used in adults for bladder cancer that:
    • has spread near the bladder or to other areas of the body. For this use, it’s given for cancer that’s grown or spread when treatment with a certain type of chemotherapy didn’t work or has stopped working.
    • has grown within 12 months of being treated with first-choice or second-choice chemotherapy.
  • Liver cancer.* Liver cancer affects cells in the liver. Opdivo is used in adults with liver cancer that has been treated in the past with sorafenib (Nexavar). For this use, Opdivo is given in combination with Yervoy.
  • Gastric cancer.* Gastric cancer affects the stomach lining. Opdivo is used to treat gastric cancer and cancer affecting the area where the stomach and esophagus meet. And it’s given for esophageal adenocarcinoma, which is cancer in certain glandular cells in the esophagus. It’s given for cancer that can’t be removed by surgery or has spread to other areas of the body. For this use, Opdivo is combined with certain types of chemotherapy.
  • Classic Hodgkin’s lymphoma.* Classic Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a type of cancer that starts in the lymphatic system, which helps the immune system fight off infections. Opdivo is used in adults with cancer that has come back or gotten worse after:
    • stem cell transplant and treatment with brentuximab vedotin (Adcetris), or
    • treatment with three or more types of cancer treatments, including stem cell treatment
  • Colorectal cancer.* Colorectal cancer affects the colon or rectum. Opdivo is used in adults and children ages 12 years and older with this condition. The drug is given either alone or together with Yervoy. It’s used for cancer with certain gene mutations that has spread to other areas of the body. (Gene mutations are abnormal changes in a gene.) And the cancer has worsened after treatment with certain chemotherapy drugs.
  • Malignant pleural mesothelioma. Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a type of lung cancer that affects the pleura (outer lining of the lungs). It’s mainly caused by exposure to asbestos. For this cancer, Opdivo is used as a first-choice treatment together with Yervoy. It’s given to adults with cancer that can’t be treated with surgery.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN). This is a type of head and neck cancer that starts in squamous cells. It affects the eyes, skin, and other organs. Opdivo is used in adults to treat SCCHN that came back after past treatment or has spread to other areas of the body. It’s used for cancer that worsened during or after treatment with certain chemotherapy drugs.

Opdivo helps your immune system recognize cancer cells and stop the cancer cells from growing or spreading.

* For this use, Opdivo received accelerated approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means its approval is based on information from early studies. The FDA will decide about full approval after more studies are completed.

Opdivo and Keytruda are both used to treat some similar types of cancer. They’re also both biologic drugs, which are made from living organisms.

Opdivo and Keytruda work in similar ways to treat cancer. They help your immune system fight off cancer by finding cancer cells and stopping them from growing.

Both medications are given by a doctor as an intravenous (IV) infusion. (IV infusions are injections given slowly into your vein over time.)

To learn more about Opdivo and Keytruda, see this side-by-side comparison. Also, talk with your doctor about which drug is right for you.

Before you begin treatment with Opdivo, discuss all your health conditions with your doctor. This includes any allergies or other health problems. And tell them about all the medications you take.

These and other factors are described below.

Interactions

Taking medications, vaccines, foods, and other things with a certain drug can affect how the drug works. These effects are called interactions.

Before taking Opdivo, be sure to tell your doctor about all medications you take, including prescription and over-the-counter types. Also describe any vitamins, herbs, or supplements you use. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you about any interactions these items may cause with Opdivo.

Interactions with drugs or supplements

There aren’t any known interactions between Opdivo and other drugs or supplements. But you should ask your doctor about over-the-counter products and prescription drugs that are safe to take with Opdivo.

Warnings

Opdivo may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. Talk with your doctor about your health history before you take Opdivo. Factors to consider include those in the list below.

  • Autoimmune disorder. Tell your doctor if you have any autoimmune disorders. Some examples of these and other conditions caused by inflammation from your immune system include inflammatory bowel disease, lupus, and multiple sclerosis. With Opdivo, your immune system may attack both cancer cells and healthy cells in your body. So with Opdivo you may experience immune system reactions (when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body). Some examples include hepatitis, thyroid problems, type 1 diabetes, certain kidney problems, skin reactions such as toxic epidermal necrolysis, and certain heart problems. Let your doctor know if you have an autoimmune condition, even if it doesn’t cause symptoms. They can discuss if Opdivo is safe for you to take. Your doctor will monitor you carefully while you’re taking Opdivo. They may have you stop the drug temporarily or permanently if you have a severe reaction to it.
  • Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Opdivo or any of its ingredients, you should not take Opdivo. Ask your doctor what other medications are better options for you.
  • Chest radiation treatment. If you’ve had radiation treatment involving your chest, Opdivo may increase your risk for pneumonitis (inflammation of the lungs). If you have problems with your lungs, tell your doctor before starting treatment with Opdivo. They’ll recommend if it’s safe for you to take this drug.
  • Organ transplant or stem cell transplant. Opdivo may cause serious reactions, and even death, if you take it before or after an organ transplant or an allogenic hematopoietic stem cell transplant. (This is a type of bone marrow transplant that uses stem cells from a donor.) Talk with your doctor if you’ve had an organ transplant or stem cell transplant or are considering either. They can tell you the risks of Opdivo treatment.
  • Nervous system disorder. Tell your doctor if you have certain conditions that affect your nervous system, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome or myasthenia gravis. This is because in rare cases, Opdivo may cause your immune system to attack your nervous system, including your spinal cord, nerves, or brain. And your risk for this may be increased if you already have certain conditions affecting your nervous system. Your doctor can tell you if it’s safe for you to take Opdivo.

Opdivo and alcohol

There aren’t any known interactions between alcohol and Opdivo. But Opdivo may cause certain liver-related side effects, such as hepatitis. And drinking a lot of alcohol can also cause liver damage.

Ask your doctor if it’s safe for you to drink alcohol with Opdivo. They can let you know how much is safe to drink during treatment.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Opdivo is not safe to use during pregnancy. The drug may cause miscarriage or harm to a fetus.

If needed, your doctor will have you take a pregnancy test before starting treatment with Opdivo. To help prevent pregnancy, females* should use an effective type of birth control while taking Opdivo. And they should continue using it for 5 months after their last dose of the drug.

It’s not known if Opdivo passes into breast milk. But Opdivo has serious side effects, which could possibly affect a child who’s breastfed. You should not breastfeed while taking Opdivo and for at least 5 months after your last dose of the drug. Ask your doctor about other ways to feed your child.

Your doctor can give you more information about the risks of Opdivo use during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

* 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.

If you’ve been diagnosed with a certain type of cancer, your doctor may discuss treatment with Opdivo.

To learn more about the types of cancer Opdivo treats, see the sections above called “Is Opdivo used for lung cancer?” “Is Opdivo used for melanoma?” and “Is Opdivo used for other conditions?

Here are a few questions you can consider asking your doctor about Opdivo:

  • Will I have long-term side effects with Opdivo?
  • Do I need to follow a special diet while I’m taking Opdivo?
  • Can I take vitamins with Opdivo?
  • Are there other immunotherapy drugs that will work for my cancer?

You can also read more about cancer and its treatment options in these Healthline articles:

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.