KEYTRUDA helps detect and fight cancer using your own immune system

KEYTRUDA is an immunotherapy proven to help some patients with advanced melanoma live longer. Understanding how KEYTRUDA works may help you talk about your treatment with your doctor. The information below shows how KEYTRUDA helps your immune system detect and fight advanced melanoma.

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 serious or life-threatening and can lead to death.

  • How KEYTRUDA works

     

    The immune system and T cells

    The immune system is your body’s natural defense against disease. The immune system sends types of cells called T cells throughout your body to detect and fight infections and diseases—including cancers like advanced melanoma.

    • Immune system sends T cells to detect cancer cells

    • T cells fight cancer cells

    How cancer cells can hide from your immune system’s T cells

    One way your immune system controls the activity of T cells is through the PD-1 pathway. However, some cancer cells hide from T-cell attack by taking control of the PD-1 pathway. This stops T cells from attacking cancer cells.

    • Cancer cells may use PD-1 pathway to hide from T cells

    • This stops T cells from attacking cancer cells

    • Cancer cells may grow and spread

    How KEYTRUDA helps fight advanced melanoma

    KEYTRUDA is a type of immunotherapy that works by blocking the PD-1 pathway. KEYTRUDA helps the immune system do what it was meant to do: detect and fight cancer cells. 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 serious or life-threatening and can lead to death.

    • Cancer cells may use PD-1 pathway to hide from T cells

    • KEYTRUDA blocks PD-1 pathway to help prevent
      cancer cells from hiding

    • T cells help detect and fight cancer cells
      but also can attack normal cells