Melanoma Treatment With KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab)


Learn more about the treatment of certain stages of melanoma with KEYTRUDA

KEYTRUDA, an immunotherapy, may be an option for certain people with melanoma. Learn more about how treating certain stages of melanoma with KEYTRUDA can change depending on where in the treatment journey a person is.

People (12 years and older) who have had surgery to remove stage 2B, stage 2C, or stage 3 melanoma

KEYTRUDA may be used as a treatment for certain stages of melanoma after it has been removed by surgery

For Patients With Stage 2B/2C and Stage 3 Melanoma, KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) Is an Immunotherapy Approved by the FDA to Help Prevent Your Melanoma From Coming Back After It and Lymph Nodes That Contain Cancer Have Been Removed By Surgery

What options could you consider after surgery?

Even after surgery, melanoma may return. Your doctor may call this “recurrence.” Your oncologist may recommend:

  • Adjuvant (a-joo-vunt) treatment: used after surgery to help fight any remaining cancer cells and help lower the chance of melanoma coming back
  • Observation: scheduling regular check-ups to see if the cancer has returned, also known as “watch and wait”

Questions to ask your doctor about treatment after surgery to remove melanoma

If you have had surgery to remove certain stages of melanoma, talk to your oncologist to see if adjuvant treatment with KEYTRUDA is right for you.

Start the conversation by asking:

  • What are the chances the melanoma will come back?
  • What are my treatment options after surgery?
  • How does KEYTRUDA work?
  • What is the treatment schedule for KEYTRUDA?
  • Does my insurance cover KEYTRUDA?

People with advanced melanoma

KEYTRUDA is an FDA-approved immunotherapy for advanced melanoma

KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) May Be a Treatment Option for Your Advanced Melanoma

Your doctor will help you determine if KEYTRUDA is right for you

KEYTRUDA may be a treatment option for your advanced melanoma. “Advanced melanoma” means that the cancer has spread or cannot be removed by surgery.

There are multiple options available to treat advanced melanoma, including immunotherapy like KEYTRUDA. Your doctor may discuss using one or more of the treatments listed below.

Immunotherapy: Works With Your Own Immune System to Help Detect and Fight Cancer


Works with your own immune system to help detect and fight cancer. Learn more about KEYTRUDA, an immunotherapy for advanced melanoma.

Surgery: Removes Cancer Cells


Removes cancer cells.

Radiation Therapy: Uses High-Energy Rays (Like X-Rays) to Kill Cancer Cells

Radiation therapy

Uses high-energy rays (like x-rays) to kill cancer cells.

Chemotherapy: Uses a Drug to Kill Cancer Cells


Uses one or more drugs to kill cancer cells. It can be given in many ways, such as an intravenous (IV) line into the vein or as a pill that you swallow. See how KEYTRUDA compares to chemotherapy.

Targeted Therapy: Uses Medicines That Target and Disrupt Certain Parts of the Cancer Cell and the Signals That Are Needed for Cancer to Grow and Spread

Targeted therapy

Uses medicines that target and disrupt certain parts of the cancer cell and the signals that are needed for cancer to grow and spread.

Patient support throughout your treatment

The KEY+YOU Patient Support Program is designed to offer educational resources to help with the practical and emotional challenges of cancer. Patients prescribed KEYTRUDA for an approved indication can receive phone support, e-mails, and online activities.

FDA-Approved Indications

KEYTRUDA is a prescription medicine used to treat a kind of skin cancer called melanoma. KEYTRUDA may be used:

  • when your melanoma has spread or cannot be removed by surgery (advanced melanoma), or
  • in adults and children 12 years of age and older with stage IIB, stage IIC, or stage III melanoma, to help prevent melanoma from coming back after it and lymph nodes that contain cancer have been removed by surgery.
Important Safety Information

KEYTRUDA is a medicine that may treat certain cancers by working with your immune system. KEYTRUDA can cause your immune system to attack normal organs and tissues in any area of your body and can affect the way they work. These problems can sometimes become severe or life-threatening and can lead to death. You can have more than one of these problems at the same time. These problems may happen any time during treatment or even after your treatment has ended.

Call or see your health care provider right away if you develop any signs or symptoms of the following problems or if they get worse. These are not all of the signs and symptoms of immune system problems that can happen with KEYTRUDA:

Lung problems: cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain.

Intestinal problems: diarrhea (loose stools) or more frequent bowel movements than usual; stools that are black, tarry, sticky, or have blood or mucus; or severe stomach-area (abdomen) pain or tenderness.

Liver problems: yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes; severe nausea or vomiting; pain on the right side of your stomach area (abdomen); dark urine (tea colored); or bleeding or bruising more easily than normal.

Hormone gland problems: headaches that will not go away or unusual headaches; eye sensitivity to light; eye problems; rapid heartbeat; increased sweating; extreme tiredness; weight gain or weight loss; feeling more hungry or thirsty than usual; urinating more often than usual; hair loss; feeling cold; constipation; your voice gets deeper; dizziness or fainting; changes in mood or behavior, such as decreased sex drive, irritability, or forgetfulness.

Kidney problems: decrease in the amount of your urine; blood in your urine; swelling of your ankles; loss of appetite.

Skin problems: rash; itching; skin blistering or peeling; painful sores or ulcers in your mouth or in your nose, throat, or genital area; fever or flu-like symptoms; swollen lymph nodes.

Problems can also happen in other organs and tissues. Signs and symptoms of these problems may include: chest pain; irregular heartbeat; shortness of breath; swelling of ankles; confusion; sleepiness; memory problems; changes in mood or behavior; stiff neck; balance problems; tingling or numbness of the arms or legs; double vision; blurry vision; sensitivity to light; eye pain; changes in eyesight; persistent or severe muscle pain or weakness; muscle cramps; low red blood cells; bruising.

Infusion reactions that can sometimes be severe or life-threatening. Signs and symptoms of infusion reactions may include chills or shaking, itching or rash, flushing, shortness of breath or wheezing, dizziness, feeling like passing out, fever, and back pain.

Rejection of a transplanted organ. Your health care provider should tell you what signs and symptoms you should report and they will monitor you, depending on the type of organ transplant that you have had.

Complications, including graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), in people who have received a bone marrow (stem cell) transplant that uses donor stem cells (allogeneic). These complications can be serious and can lead to death. These complications may happen if you underwent transplantation either before or after being treated with KEYTRUDA. Your health care provider will monitor you for these complications.

Getting medical treatment right away may help keep these problems from becoming more serious. Your health care provider will check you for these problems during treatment with KEYTRUDA. They may treat you with corticosteroid or hormone replacement medicines. They may also need to delay or completely stop treatment with KEYTRUDA if you have severe side effects.

Before you receive KEYTRUDA, tell your health care provider if you have immune system problems such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or lupus; have had an organ transplant or have had or plan to have a bone marrow (stem cell) transplant that uses donor stem cells (allogeneic); have had radiation treatment in your chest area; have a condition that affects your nervous system, such as myasthenia gravis or Guillain-Barré syndrome.

If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, tell your health care provider. KEYTRUDA can harm your unborn baby. If you are able to become pregnant, you will be given a pregnancy test before you start treatment. Use effective birth control during treatment and for 4 months after your last dose of KEYTRUDA. Tell them right away if you think you may be pregnant or you become pregnant during treatment with KEYTRUDA.

Tell your health care provider if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if KEYTRUDA passes into your breast milk. Do not breastfeed during treatment with KEYTRUDA and for 4 months after your last dose of KEYTRUDA.

Tell your health care provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Common side effects of KEYTRUDA when used alone include feeling tired; pain, including pain in muscles; rash; diarrhea; fever; cough; decreased appetite; itching; shortness of breath; constipation; bones or joints and stomach-area (abdominal) pain; nausea; and low levels of thyroid hormone.

In children, when KEYTRUDA is used alone, fever, vomiting, headache, stomach area (abdominal) pain, and low levels of white blood cells and red blood cells (anemia) are more common than in adults.

Common side effects of KEYTRUDA when given with certain chemotherapy medicines include feeling tired or weak; nausea; constipation; diarrhea; decreased appetite; rash; vomiting; cough; trouble breathing; fever; hair loss; inflammation of the nerves that may cause pain, weakness, and paralysis in the arms and legs; swelling of the lining of the mouth, nose, eyes, throat, intestines, or vagina; mouth sores; headache; weight loss; stomach-area (abdominal) pain; joint and muscle pain; and trouble sleeping.

Common side effects of KEYTRUDA when given with chemotherapy and bevacizumab include tingling or numbness of the arms or legs; hair loss; low red blood cell count; feeling tired or weak; nausea; low white blood cell count; diarrhea; high blood pressure; decreased platelet count; constipation; joint aches; vomiting; urinary tract infection; rash; low levels of thyroid hormone; and decreased appetite.

Common side effects of KEYTRUDA when given with axitinib include diarrhea; feeling tired or weak; high blood pressure; liver problems; low levels of thyroid hormone; decreased appetite; blisters or rash on the palms of your hands and soles of your feet; nausea; mouth sores or swelling of the lining of the mouth, nose, eyes, throat, intestines, or vagina; hoarseness; rash; cough; and constipation.

These are not all the possible side effects of KEYTRUDA. Talk to your health care provider for medical advice about side effects.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Please read the accompanying Medication Guide for KEYTRUDA and discuss it with your doctor. The physician Prescribing Information also is available.