If you have certain types of cancer, your doctor may prescribe Tecentriq. It’s a prescription drug that’s used in adults to treat certain cancers affecting the:
To learn more about Tecentriq and how it’s used for these cancers, see the “What is Tecentriq used for?” section below.
Atezolizumab is a biologic drug, which means it’s made from parts of living cells. It’s only available as the brand-name drug Tecentriq. It’s not available in a biosimilar form. (Biosimilars are like generic drugs. But unlike generics, which are made for nonbiologic drugs, biosimilars are made for biologic medications.)
Tecentriq comes as a solution that your doctor will give to you as an intravenous (IV) infusion. With an IV infusion, the drug is injected into your vein over a period of time.
In this article, we describe Tecentriq’s uses, side effects, and more.
If you have certain types of cancer, your doctor may recommend Tecentriq. It’s used in adults with the following cancers:
- Breast cancer.* Tecentriq treats triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) that has either spread to other parts of your body or has spread near your breast but can’t be removed with surgery. TNBC lacks certain proteins, so unlike other types of breast cancer, hormones do not encourage it to grow. For this purpose, Tecentriq is given with the chemotherapy drug protein-bound paclitaxel. (Note: Tecentriq shouldn’t be used with paclitaxel, which differs from protein-bound paclitaxel.)
- Lung cancer. Tecentriq treats two common types of lung cancer called non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). Specifically, the drug is used for the following:
- As a first-choice treatment for SCLC that has spread to both of your lungs or to other places in your body. For this purpose, Tecentriq is given with the chemotherapy drugs carboplatin and etoposide.
- As a first-choice treatment for NSCLC that has spread from your lungs to other parts of your body. For this use, the cancer must lack certain gene mutations (abnormal changes), but it must have certain proteins.
- As a first-choice treatment for NSCLC that doesn’t affect certain lung cells called squamous cells. For this use, the cancer must have spread from your lungs to other parts of your body. And it must not have certain gene mutations. To treat this type of lung cancer, Tecentriq is given with bevacizumab (Avastin), paclitaxel, and carboplatin.
- As a first-choice treatment for NSCLC that doesn’t affect certain lung cells called squamous cells. For this use, the cancer must have spread from your lungs to other parts of your body. And it must not have certain gene mutations. To treat this type of lung cancer, Tecentriq is given with protein-bound paclitaxel and carboplatin.
- As treatment for NSCLC that has spread from your lungs to other parts of your body and has worsened with certain previous treatment. (The previous treatment must have been made with platinum.) For this use, the cancer must have certain gene mutations, and it must have been treated with therapy made for cancer with those mutations.
- Bladder cancer.* Tecentriq treats bladder cancer that has spread from your bladder to other parts of your body. For this use, Tecentriq can be given to people:
- who can’t take certain chemotherapy drugs and whose cancer may or may not have certain proteins
- whose cancer got worse during or after certain chemotherapy treatment in the past
- Liver cancer. Tecentriq treats liver cancer that can’t be removed by surgery or that has spread from your liver to other parts of your body. For this purpose, Tecentriq is given with bevacizumab (Avastin).
- Skin cancer. Tecentriq treats a form of skin cancer called melanoma. For this purpose, Tecentriq is used for melanoma with a specific gene mutation. The cancer must also have spread from your skin to other parts of your body and can’t be removed by surgery. To treat this type of cancer, Tecentriq is given with cobimetinib (Cotellic) and vemurafenib (Zelboraf).
Tecentriq is an immunotherapy drug. It targets a specific protein, called programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1), that some cancer cells have. This protein blocks the normal response of your immune system that kills cancer cells. By targeting PD-L1, Tecentriq activates your immune system to fight off cancer cells.
* For treating this type of cancer, Tecentriq received
Like most drugs, Tecentriq may cause mild or serious side effects. The lists below describe some of the more common side effects that Tecentriq may cause. 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 Tecentriq. They can also suggest ways to help reduce side effects.
Mild side effects
Here’s a short list of some of the mild side effects that Tecentriq can cause. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist, or read Tecentriq’s medication guide.
Mild side effects of Tecentriq that have been reported include:
- fatigue (lack of energy)
- trouble breathing
- loss of appetite
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 on this side effect, see the “Side effect focus” section below.
Serious side effects
Serious side effects from Tecentriq can occur, but they aren’t common. If you have serious side effects from Tecentriq, call your doctor right away. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, you should call 911 or your local emergency number.
Serious side effects of Tecentriq that have been reported include:
- infections, including urinary tract infections (UTIs) and lung infections
- severe infusion reaction, which can happen after you receive a dose of the drug and may cause fever, chills, rash, and swelling
- immune system reaction (for more information, see “Side effect focus” directly below)
- allergic reaction* (for more information, see “Side effect focus” directly below)
* An allergic reaction is possible after using Tecentriq. But this side effect wasn’t reported in studies.
Side effect focus
Learn more about some of the side effects Tecentriq may cause.
If you’re taking Tecentriq, you may have an increased risk of getting an infection. In fact, urinary tract infection (UTIs) and lung infections were common reasons why people stopped using Tecentriq during studies. Sometimes, these infections can become serious.
What might help
Symptoms of infection vary depending on the kind of infection you have. But possible symptoms to watch for include:
- flu-like symptoms, including fever, chills, headache, body ache, fatigue (lack of energy)
- nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- pain when urinating or frequent urination
If you think you have an infection while you’re taking Tecentriq, tell your doctor. But don’t stop taking Tecentriq without first talking with your doctor.
It’s recommended that you do the following to help prevent lung infections:
- Frequently wash your hands with the proper technique.
- Avoid touching your face, including your eyes, ears, nose, and mouth.
- Stay away from people who are sick.
And to help prevent UTIs, you can try:
- urinating after having sex
- staying hydrated and urinating regularly
- taking showers instead of baths
- avoiding douching or using sprays or powders on your genitals
- wiping from front to back after urinating
Nausea is one of the most common side effects of cancer drugs, including Tecentriq.
Many over-the-counter and prescription medications can help manage nausea. But before taking any medication for nausea, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can help make sure the product is safe for you.
What might help
If you have nausea while you’re taking Tecentriq, tell your doctor. They might recommend medication to help lessen your nausea.
Besides taking medication, other ways to manage nausea include:
- eating smaller, more frequent meals
- staying away from odors that make you nauseous
- avoiding spicy, fatty, or very salty foods
Immune system reactions
Tecentriq boosts the activity of your immune system to help it kill cancer cells. But with increased immune system activity, your body may start attacking your healthy cells, too. When your body attacks its own cells, you may have immune-mediated side effects.
Any cell in your body can be targeted by immune-mediated side effects. This includes cells in your:
- lungs, possibly leading to pneumonitis (inflammation in your lungs)
- intestines, possibly leading to colitis (inflammation in your colon)
- liver, possibly leading to hepatitis (inflammation in your liver)
- skin, possibly leading to rashes and painful skin sores
- kidneys, possibly leading to nephritis (inflammation in your kidneys)
- hormone glands, possibly leading to problems with hormones, including thyroid hormones
Additionally, if you have a solid organ transplant, immune-mediated side effects from Tecentriq may cause your body to reject the organ.
Immune-mediated side effects can occur while you’re taking Tecentriq and after you stop taking the drug.
What might help
During Tecentriq treatment, your doctor will monitor you closely for immune-mediated side effects. Noticing immune-mediated side effects and managing them early is key to safely using Tecentriq.
To monitor for immune-mediated side effects, your doctor will check certain blood tests. This allows them to make sure your kidneys, thyroid, liver, and other organs are working well.
If your doctor finds that you have any immune-mediated side effects, they may lower your dose of Tecentriq. Or, in some cases, they may have you stop using the drug. But don’t stop taking Tecentriq without first talking with your doctor.
Sometimes, you need to take steroids or other drugs to treat immune-mediated side effects. These treatments help to lower the activity of your immune system for a while.
Some people may have an allergic reaction to Tecentriq. While allergic reaction wasn’t reported in clinical studies of Tecentriq, it can still happen.
Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:
- flushing (warmth, swelling, redness, or discoloration in your skin)
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 Tecentriq. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number.
Find answers to some commonly asked questions about Tecentriq.
What’s the success rate of using Tecentriq?
Each person may have a different response to treatment with Tecentriq. Depending on the type of cancer you have, Tecentriq has a different success rate.
For example, studies show that people with non-small cell lung cancer can live longer when using Tecentriq compared with certain chemotherapy treatments. (See below for more information about chemotherapy drugs.)
Talk with your doctor about the success rate of using Tecentriq for your condition. If you’d like to learn more about results from studies of the drug, view Tecentriq’s prescribing information.
How does Tecentriq work?
Tecentriq contains the active drug atezolizumab, which is an antibody (type of protein). It targets (works on) specific cancer cells and immune system cells.
With cancer, certain parts of your immune system shut down and can’t eliminate the cancer cells. Tecentriq reactivates your body’s immune response. It blocks the growth of cancer cells and improves your immune system’s ability to kill cancer cells.
Is Tecentriq a chemotherapy drug?
Immunotherapy drugs are a type of cancer treatment that boosts the ability of your immune system to fight cancer. Chemotherapy, on the other hand, is a treatment that works on cancer cells and kills them itself.
Your doctor will explain how you’ll receive Tecentriq. They’ll tell you how much you’ll receive and how often. Be sure to go to all your treatment appointments. Below are commonly used dosages. Your dosage may differ depending on the type of cancer you have.
Tecentriq comes as a solution that you’ll receive by intravenous (IV) infusion. This means a healthcare provider will inject Tecentriq into your vein over a period of time.
Your first dose of Tecentriq will be administered over a period of 60 minutes. If you tolerate the first dose well, your next infusions may be given over 30 minutes instead.
The dose of Tecentriq you’ll receive depends on how often you’ll be getting the drug. You’ll receive a dose once every 2, 3, or 4 weeks.
Taking Tecentriq with other drugs
You might need to take Tecentriq with other medications to treat your cancer. This is because some kinds of cancer require more than one type of cancer medication.
For example, if you’re taking Tecentriq for breast cancer, your doctor will prescribe protein-bound paclitaxel (Abraxane) together with Tecentriq. Abraxane is a type of chemotherapy that kills cancer cells.
A drug called bevacizumab (Avastin) is also used to treat certain types of cancer. It helps prevent blood supply from reaching cancer cells, leading to cell death. If you’re using Tecentriq for liver cancer or a certain type of lung cancer, your doctor may prescribe bevacizumab together with Tecentriq.
Depending on the type of cancer you have, your doctor may prescribe other cancer drugs, including:
- cobimetinib (Cotellic)
- vemurafenib (Zelboraf)
Questions about taking Tecentriq
Here are answers to some common questions about Tecentriq.
- What if I miss a dose of Tecentriq? It’s important to go to all of your appointments to receive doses of Tecentriq. If you miss an appointment, call your doctor’s office as soon as possible and reschedule your treatment.
- Will I need to use Tecentriq long term? Tecentriq treats advanced cancers, so you might need to receive it long term. Ask your doctor how long you’ll need to take this medication given your condition. But keep in mind that if you experience severe side effects from Tecentriq, your doctor may switch your medication. Also, in some cases, your cancer may stop responding to Tecentriq. If your cancer worsens during treatment, your doctor may have you stop taking Tecentriq.
- Should I take Tecentriq with food? You’ll receive Tecentriq as an injection into your vein over a period of time. How well your body absorbs this drug isn’t affected by whether you’ve eaten.
- How long does Tecentriq take to work? Tecentriq starts to work with your immune system to help fight off cancer when you start receiving the medication. Your doctor will evaluate your cancer throughout this treatment to see how well it’s working for you.
Questions for your doctor
You may have questions about Tecentriq 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 like:
- How will Tecentriq 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 providers 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.
Costs of prescription drugs can vary depending on many factors. These factors include what your insurance plan covers and whether you get the drug from a specialty pharmacy or receive it from a healthcare provider.
If you have questions about how to pay for your prescription, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. You can also visit the Tecentriq manufacturer’s website to see if it offers any support options.
Both Tecentriq and Imfinzi are cancer drugs that work with your immune system. They have different uses and different side effects.
To see a side-by-side comparison of these drugs, check out our “Imfinzi vs. Tecentriq” article. Talk with your doctor about which drug is best for you.
Some important things to discuss with your doctor when considering treatment with Tecentriq include:
- your overall health
- any medical conditions you may have
Tell your doctor if you’re taking medications. This is important because some medications may interfere with Tecentriq. These and other considerations are described below.
Taking medications, vaccines, foods, and other things with a certain drug can affect how the drug works. These effects are called interactions.
Before taking Tecentriq, be sure to tell your doctor about all medications you take (including prescription and over-the-counter [OTC] 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 Tecentriq.
Interactions with drugs or supplements
It’s not known which drugs interact with Tecentriq. But you should still tell your doctor about any OTC or prescription medications you’re taking. Tell your doctor about any vitamins or supplements you’re taking as well.
If you think Tecentriq is interfering with another medication you’re taking, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Tecentriq 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 Tecentriq. Factors to consider include those in the list below.
- Immune system problems. Tecentriq works with your immune system to fight off cancer. So if you have an immune system condition, Tecentriq may not be the right drug for you. Examples of immune system conditions include Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or lupus. Also, tell your doctor if you’re receiving treatment for an infection. Tecentriq may affect how well your immune system can fight off the infection.
- Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Tecentriq or any of its ingredients, you shouldn’t take Tecentriq. Ask your doctor what other medications are better options for you.
- Stem cell transplant. Serious complications, and even death, have been reported in people who received a stem cell transplant before or after using Tecentriq. If you need a stem cell transplant, tell your doctor about any use of Tecentriq.
Use with alcohol
Some medications interact with alcohol. Tecentriq isn’t one of them. But before starting Tecentriq, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it’s safe for you to drink alcohol.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Tecentriq is harmful when used by pregnant people. Tecentriq boosts the activity of your immune system. So, if you become pregnant while using it, your immune system might attack a developing fetus.
Before prescribing Tecentriq, your doctor will check to make sure you’re not pregnant.
If you’re a female* taking Tecentriq, you should use an effective method of birth control to help prevent pregnancy during treatment. And you should keep using birth control for at least 5 months after your last dose of Tecentriq. If you’re a male* using Tecentriq, check with your doctor about whether you’ll need to use birth control.
It’s not known whether Tecentriq passes into breast milk. But because it’s not known if Tecentriq is harmful to a child who is breastfed, it’s recommended that you avoid breastfeeding while receiving this drug. And you should avoid breastfeeding for at least 5 months after stopping the drug.
* In this article, use of the terms “male” and “female” refer to a person’s sex assigned at birth.
If you have questions about taking Tecentriq, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. Your doctor can tell you about other treatments that may be used for your condition.
Here’s a list of articles dealing with cancer treatment that you might find helpful:
- Breast Cancer Treatment Options by Stage
- Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM): Treatment Options for Breast Cancer
- Integrative Medicine for Lung Cancer
- What to Ask Your Doctor About Treating Advanced Bladder Cancer
- The Latest on Liver Cancer Treatment and Research
- Melanoma Alternative Treatments
Also, some questions to ask your doctor about Tecentriq include:
- Will Tecentriq cure my cancer?
- Will I lose my hair if I’m taking Tecentriq?
- Which natural remedies can I use to help prevent immune-mediated reactions with Tecentriq?
Additionally, you can learn more about one of Tecentriq’s uses by subscribing to Healthline’s breast cancer newsletter.
If I’m going to be traveling, can I switch from getting Tecentriq once every 2 weeks to getting it once every 4 weeks?Anonymous patient
It’s possible. But how frequently you receive Tecentriq will depend on your individual treatment plan and the type of cancer that’s being treated.
If you’d like to know about changing your dosing schedule with Tecentriq, it’s important to talk with your doctor. They can let you know if changing the frequency of your Tecentriq doses is a possibility.Melissa Badowski, PharmD, MPH, FCCPAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
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 other 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.