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Nivolumab: Immunotherapy in Malignant Melanoma

Heather Bayless
Susan Schneider
CJON 2015, 19(4), 430-432 DOI: 10.1188/15.CJON.430-432

Background: Although patients diagnosed with melanoma that is confined to the skin have a five-year survival rate of 98%, this number drops to 16% with widely metastatic disease. Melanoma rates have been steadily increasing since the 1970s, but cytotoxic chemotherapy generally prolongs survival by about four months. Nivolumab is an effective immunotherapy agent.

Objectives: This article discusses the use of nivolumab for metastatic melanoma.

Methods: Clinical trial and early postmarketing data were reviewed.

Findings: In clinical trials, patients with advanced melanoma experienced partial sustained responses to nivolumab, a new targeted immunotherapy agent, for more than one year. Nivolumab helps the immune system mobilize lymphocytes that have been inactivated by melanoma cells, enhancing the body’s ability to recognize the cancer as abnormal. Compared to conventional chemotherapy, nivolumab has been shown to greatly improve survival in widespread, inoperable malignant melanoma. Oncology nurses will administer, monitor, and educate patients about nivolumab.

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