KEYTRUDA for head and neck cancer 

Questions to ask your doctor about head and neck cancer

Questions to ask after diagnosis

  • What type of head and neck cancer do I have?
  • Is it advanced or reoccurring?
  • Are there support services available?
  • Who will be leading my treatment plan?

Questions to ask about treatments

  • What treatments are best for me?
  • What are the goals of these treatments? Cure, life-extension or symptom relief?
  • What is the success rate of these treatments?
  • When does treatment start?
  • Are there likely to be any side effects? How can I manage these?
  • Where will the treatments take place?
  • How long will the treatments last for?
  • Can I carry on life as usual during treatment?
  • Are there any clinical trials available?

Questions to ask after treatment

  • How well did I respond to treatment?
  • What does the future hold?
  • What is the follow-up plan?
  • Are members of my family at higher risk for developing head or neck cancer because of my experience?

Questions to ask about having surgery

  • What type of surgery will I have?
  • What will be removed?
  • How long will the surgery take?
  • How long will I be in the hospital?
  • How quickly will I be up and around again?
  • Does this surgery come with any long-term side effects?

Questions to ask your insurer

  1. Does my policy cover me for unfunded cancer treatment?
  2. Does my policy cover me for my entire course of treatment? If not, which aspects of my treatment am I covered for?
  3. How do I claim?



How to access KEYTRUDA

How KEYTRUDA works


KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) 50mg powder for infusion
KEYTRUDA is a Prescription Only Medicine Use: KEYTRUDA is used:
  • in the treatment of melanoma which cannot be removed by surgery alone or when it has spread to multiple sites in the body.
  • in the treatment of a kind of lung cancer called non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
  • in the treatment of classical Hodgkin Lymphoma (cHL)
  • in the treatment of urothelial carcinoma, including bladder cancer
  • in the treatment of a kind of head and neck cancer called head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC)

Side effects: Immune-mediated side effects including inflammation of the lungs, colon, liver, kidneys, pituitary gland, brain, eye, muscles, nervous system, pancreas, and heart, thyroid disorders, type 1 diabetes mellitus. Severe skin reactions including Steven-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis. Severe infusion reactions including hypersensitivity and anaphylaxis. Transplant recipients: rejection of a transplanted organ, graft-versus-host-disease (in people with a bone marrow transplant using donor cells). Very common side effects include diarrhea, nausea, itching, rash, joint pain, back pain, feeling tired, cough, patches of discoloured skin, stomach pain, decreased levels of sodium in blood. Tiredness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, shortness of breath, rash, itching, headache, hair loss, and, infections of the upper respiratory tract were reported when given in combination with chemotherapy. You may experience more than one side effect at the same time.

All medicines have risks and benefits. Talk to your doctor to see if KEYTRUDA is right for you. KEYTRUDA is a funded medicine for melanoma patients– restrictions apply. KEYTRUDA is an unfunded medicine for NSCLC, HNSCC, cHL and urothelial carcinoma patients. Ask your health professional the cost of the medicine and any other medical fees that may apply. Use only as directed and if symptoms continue or you have side effects, see your doctor, pharmacist, or health professional.

Based on data sheet prepared 17 July 2018. Marketed by: Merck Sharp & Dohme (New Zealand) Limited, Newmarket, Auckland. . For additional product information, consult the Consumer Medicine Information (CMI), available on request, phone 0800 500 673 or refer to the Medsafe website

This site is intended for New Zealand residents.

References to support this are available on request.

MSD recommends people always seek the medical advice of their healthcare professional.

Copyright © 2018 Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, New Jersey, USA. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2018 Merck Sharp & Dohme (New Zealand) Limited. Level 3, 123 Carlton Gore Road, Newmarket, Auckland. All rights reserved.

ONCO-1273154-0000 First Issued November 2017 TAPS NA10076 essence MSD8360

Updated: October 2018