If you’ve been diagnosed with lung cancer, your doctor may suggest treatment with Imfinzi.

Imfinzi is used to treat lung cancer in adults.

To learn more about how Imfinzi is used, see the “What is Imfinzi used for?” section below.

Imfinzi basics

Imfinzi is a brand-name drug. It’s a type of immunotherapy drug, which means it works with your immune system to attack cancer cells. The medication comes as a solution in a single-dose vial. Your healthcare professional will give you Imfinzi as an intravenous (IV) infusion. (This is an injection into your vein given over time.)

Imfinzi contains the active drug durvalumab, which is a biologic medication. A biologic is made from parts of living organisms. Imfinzi is 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 drugs.) Instead, durvalumab comes only as the brand-name drug Imfinzi.

Imfinzi has side effects, uses, cost, and more.

Imfinzi may cause mild or serious side effects. The side effects are described in the lists below. All possible side effects are not included in these lists.

Side effects of a drug can depend on other factors.

  • Your age.
  • how well your immune system is working
  • You have other health conditions.
  • You may be taking other drugs.

The doctor or the pharmacy can tell you more about the side effects of Imfinzi. They can suggest ways to reduce side effects.

Mild side effects

Here’s a short list of some of the mild side effects that Imfinzi can cause. Side effects might differ slightly between people with small cell lung cancer and people with non-small cell lung cancer. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist, or read Imfinzi’s prescribing information.

There are some mild side effects reported with the use of Imfinzi.

Many drugs can have mild side effects that go away in a few days or weeks. If they become intolerable, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious side effects

Imfinzi can cause serious side effects, but they are not common. If you have serious side effects from Imfinzi, you should call your doctor. If you think you have a medical emergency, you should call the emergency number.

There are serious side effects reported with use of Imfinzi.

  • rash
  • pneumonitis* (inflammation of the lungs)
  • hair loss
  • allergic reaction*
  • immune system reactions, which can cause inflammation in your nerves, muscles, or joints, as well as in different organs, including your:
    • Your hormones are your thyroid, adrenals, pituitary, and pancreas.
    • heart
    • skin

The side effect focus section gives more information on this side effect.

Side effect focus

There are some side effects Imfinzi may cause.

Rash

Imfinzi can cause a rash.

In studies, people receiving Imfinzi experienced different types of rash. These included dermatitis and other serious types of drug-related rash. (With dermatitis, you may have dry, swollen, and itchy skin.)

Drug-related blisters can cause peeling. They can cause blisters in the mouth, nose, throat, and genital area. A rash may be a sign of an allergic reaction to Imfinzi.

Some people may develop a rash as a reaction to the intravenous (IV) infusion of Imfinzi. (This is an injection into a vein over a period of time.) This type of reaction occurs either during or shortly after you receive a medication by IV infusion.

What can help?

Let your doctor know if you develop a rash during treatment with Imfinzi. If your symptoms are serious, your doctor may need to prescribe medication. Your doctor will decide if you need to stop or pause Imfinzi treatment.

Pneumonitis

While Imfinzi causes your immune system to fight cancer cells, it can also cause your immune system to attack healthy cells. This can lead to problems such as pneumonitis. With this condition, your lungs become inflamed.

There are symptoms of pneumonitis.

  • There is a high degree of fever.
  • There is chest pain.
  • The breath was very thin.
  • cough

If you feel like you are in danger, call the emergency number.

In studies, treatment was stopped in people who took Imfinzi and developed pneumonitis.

What can help?

If you have symptoms of pneumonitis, your doctor may order tests, such as a chest X-ray, to check your lungs. They may also prescribe certain types of treatment, such as corticosteroids, to help reduce lung inflammation (swelling).

If you develop pneumonitis, your doctor may stop Imfinzi. They may switch you to a different medication.

Hair loss

In some people, treatment with Imfinzi may cause hair loss. This is a common side effect of chemotherapy medications. Imfinzi may be used with chemotherapy drugs, which may increase the risk of hair loss.

Imfinzi may also cause thyroid disorders, which may cause hair loss, too.

In studies, hair loss occurred in people receiving Imfinzi treatment for small cell lung cancer. Hair loss was less common in people receiving Imfinzi alone than in those who received Imfinzi plus chemotherapy.

What can help?

If you are experiencing hair loss, your doctor may order tests to find the cause. There is a possibility that hair loss is due to a different health condition.

If you have concerns about hair loss, talk to your doctor. They can give more information about the side effect.

Allergic reaction

While allergic reaction to Imfinzi wasn’t reported in studies of the medication, it can still happen. And keep in mind that drug-related rash is a side effect of Imfinzi.

A mild allergic reaction can include some symptoms.

  • There is a skin rash.
  • It is itchy.
  • flushing (warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)

A more severe allergic reaction is not uncommon. A severe allergic reaction can cause swelling under your skin, which can be seen in your eyes, lips, hands, and feet. They can include swelling of your mouth, throat, and tongue, which can cause trouble breathing.

If you have an allergic reaction to Imfinzi, call your doctor. If you think you have a medical emergency, call the emergency number.

Imfinzi is an immunotherapy treatment that’s used to treat certain types of lung cancer. Immunotherapy drugs work with your immune system to attack cancer cells.

Imfinzi is used to treat a lot of diseases.

  • Small cell lung cancer (SCLC). SCLC is the least common and most aggressive of the two main types of lung cancer. Imfinzi is used as the first treatment for SCLC when cancer has spread throughout the lungs, to the chest, or to other areas of the body. Imfinzi is used together with a chemotherapy drug called etoposide. Imfinzi is also used with either cisplatin or carboplatin, both of which are chemotherapy drugs.
  • Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). NSCLC is the most common type of lung cancer. Imfinzi is used to treatstage 3 NSCLC that can’t be removed with surgery. The drug is used to treat cancer that hasn’t spread after treatment with radiation and chemotherapy drugs that contain platinum.

In studies, Imfinzi was found to be effective in treating these types of cancer. Ask your doctor for more information about Imfinzi’s use and effectiveness for the type of cancer you have.

There are many factors that affect the cost of prescription drugs. What your insurance plan covers is one of the factors.

If you have questions about how to pay for your prescription, talk with your doctor. You can also visit the Imfinzi manufacturer’s website to see if there are support options.

There are some things you can learn about how Imfinzi is given, how it is administered, and what questions you may have.

Receiving Imfinzi

Imfinzi comes as a liquid solution in a single-dose vial. A healthcare professional will give the drug as an intravenous (IV) infusion. With IV infusions, you receive a medication through a vein over a period of time. Imfinzi infusions take 60 minutes.

“You can get Imfinzi at a treatment clinic or your doctor’s office. You can’t give Imfinzi to yourself.”

If you have questions about how Imfinzi is administered, talk to your doctor.

Receiving Imfinzi with other drugs

Imfinzi may be used to treat cancer. Your doctor will talk to you about your medications and what to expect.

For non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), Imfinzi is used on its own.

For small cell lung cancer (SCLC), the medication is used with other chemotherapy drugs. (These include etoposide and either cisplatin or carboplatin.)

Your doctor will tell you the right amount of Imfinzi for you. The dosages are used but the doctor will decide the exact amount.

Form

Imfinzi comes as a liquid solution in a single-dose vial. A healthcare professional will give the drug as an intravenous (IV) infusion. With IV infusions, you receive a medication through a vein over a period of time.

“You can get Imfinzi at a treatment clinic or your doctor’s office.”

Recommended dosages

The amount of Imfinzi you are given is based on several factors.

  • Your weight.
  • The type of cancer you are being treated for.
  • You take other drugs.
  • Your overall health.

Imfinzi is given every few weeks. The recommended dosages for Imfinzi are as follows.

  • Small cell lung cancer (SCLC). For SCLC, you’ll receive Imfinzi as follows:
    • If you weigh 30 kilograms (about 66 pounds) or more, you’ll likely receive Imfinzi every 3 weeks with two chemotherapy drugs. These are etoposide and either cisplatin or carboplatin. After that, you’ll receive Imfinzi by itself every 4 weeks.
    • If you weigh less than 30 kilograms, you will likely receive Imfinzi every 3 weeks with etoposide or carboplatin. You will receive Imfinzi on its own every 2 weeks after that.
  • Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). For stage 3 NSCLC, you’ll likely receive Imfinzi as follows:
    • If you weigh more than 30 kilomes, you will receive Imfinzi every 2 or 4 weeks.
    • You will receive your dose every 2 weeks if you weigh less than 30 kilo.

Questions about Imfinzi’s dosage

Some questions about receiving Imfinzi are listed below.

  • What if I miss a dose of Imfinzi? Imfinzi is given as an IV infusion by healthcare professionals. You’ll receive Imfinzi at your doctor’s office or a clinic. If you miss a scheduled dose, make sure to call the office right away to reschedule. Consider using a reminder tool, such as an app on your phone, to keep track of your appointments.
  • Will I need to take Imfinzi long term? How long you can take Imfinzi depends on whether the drug is effective in treating your cancer. It also depends on any side effects you may have and other factors. For NSCLC, it’s recommended that you receive Imfinzi for a maximum of 1 year. The length of time you will receive Imfinzi for SCLC may vary. Your doctor will monitor your progress and keep you informed about your treatment plan. If you have questions about the timeline for your treatment, ask your doctor.
  • Should I receive doses of Imfinzi with food? No interactions have been reported between Imfinzi and food. But nausea can be a side effect of Imfinzi. Ask your doctor about the best times to eat and drink to minimize nausea while you’re being treated with Imfinzi.
  • How long does Imfinzi take to work? Imfinzi should start to work soon after you receive it, but exactly how quickly this might happen varies with each person. Your doctor will order regular blood tests and other tests to see how well the drug is working. These test results will help your doctor determine your treatment progress and prognosis.

Questions for your doctor

You may have questions about Imfinzi. Discuss your concerns with your doctor.

Here are a few tips that might help you.

  • Before your appointment, write down questions such as:
    • How will Imfinzi affect my lifestyle?
  • Bring someone with you to your appointment to make you feel more comfortable.
  • “If you don’t understand something, ask your doctor to explain it.”

“Your doctor and other healthcare professionals are here to help you. They want you to get the best care possible. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or give feedback on your treatment”

Answers to some questions about Imfinzi are listed below.

How does Imfinzi work?

Imfinzi is a type of drug. There is a type ofProtein in your body. T-cells in the body are unable to attack cancer cells. T-cells are white blood cells.

The cancer can grow through this process. Imfinzi is a drug that blocks the action of the drug, PD-L1. Your body can attack cancer cells when thePD-L1 is not working.

If you want to learn more about Imfinzi, you should talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

How long does Imfinzi stay in your system and work?

Imfinzi stays in your system for about 3 months after you take it.

During this time, Imfinzi is slowly released as it keeps working in your body. Because of the length of time the drug stays in your system, it’s important to tell all your healthcare professionals, including your pharmacist, about your Imfinzi treatment. This will help avoid any drug interactions with other medications you might be prescribed.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist how long Imfinzi works.

Is Imfinzi used for head and neck cancer?

No, it’s not. Imfinzi was studied in the past as a treatment for head and neck cancer. But studies showed it wasn’t any more effective than other available treatments.

If you want to learn more about the studies and use of Imfinzi, you should talk to your doctor.

Imfinzi and Keytruda are both prescription immunotherapy drugs used to treat certain types of cancer. (Immunotherapy drugs work with your immune system to treat certain conditions.)

Both drugs have similarities and differences. Keytruda is approved to treat more types of cancer.

To learn more about how these medications compare, see our “Imfinzi vs. Keytruda: What You Should Know” article.

Imfinzi and Tecentriq are both prescription drugs used to treat certain kinds of cancer. They have similarities and some differences. Tecentriq is approved to treat more types of cancer than Imfinzi.

For information on how these two medications are similar and different, see our “Imfinzi vs. Tecentriq: What You Should Know” article.

Before starting treatment with Imfinzi, ask your doctor how the drug will affect you. They’ll typically talk with you about all your medications, Your overall health., and any other medical conditions you have that might impact your treatment.

Interactions

Taking medications, vaccines, foods, and other things with a certain drug can affect how the drug works. These effects are called interactions.

There have been no reported interactions between Imfinzi and other drugs.

Before you receive Imfinzi, be sure to tell your doctor about all your medication. You should also describe any vitamins, herbs, or supplements you use. Your doctor can tell you about the interactions these items can cause.

Warnings

If you have a medical condition that affects your health, Imfinzi may not be right for you. Before you receive Imfinzi, you should talk to your doctor about your health history.

The factors to consider are listed.

  • Autoimmune disorders. Imfinzi treatment may worsen some types of autoimmune disorders, such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or lupus. If you have any autoimmune conditions, ask your doctor if it’s safe for you to receive Imfinzi.
  • Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Imfinzi or any of its ingredients, you should not receive Imfinzi. Ask your doctor if other medications might be better for you.
  • Organ or stem cell transplant. Treatment with Imfinzi may cause problems if you’ve had an organ transplant or stem cell transplant. Imfinzi can cause your body to harm the transplant. If you’ve had an organ or stem cell transplant, talk with your doctor about whether Imfinzi treatment is safe for you.
  • Breathing or liver problems. Although rare, treatment with Imfinzi can cause side effects, including damage to your lungs or liver. If you have breathing or lung problems, talk with your doctor about whether Imfinzi is safe for you.
  • Previous radiation treatment. Non-small cell lung cancer, which Imfinzi treats, is sometimes treated with radiation. Receiving radiation before Imfinzi may increase your risk for serious inflammation in your lungs. If you’ve had radiation in your chest area, tell your doctor before starting Imfinzi. They may want to delay your treatment with Imfinzi to allow the effects of the radiation to wear off.
  • Infection. Certain infections need to be healed before you can safely start receiving Imfinzi. Be sure your doctor is aware of any active infections you may have before beginning Imfinzi treatment.

Use with alcohol

“The drug’s side effects may increase if you drink alcohol during your treatment. These side effects can be serious.”

If you drink alcohol, you should ask your doctor if it is safe to do so.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

It isn’t safe to have Imfinzi if you’re pregnant. This is because immunotherapy drugs, such as Imfinzi, may cause your immune system to harm a fetus. (Immunotherapy drugs work with your immune system to treat certain conditions.) If you’re able to become pregnant, your doctor will order a pregnancy test for you before you start treatment with Imfinzi.

It’s important that females* use birth control while receiving Imfinzi and for 3 months after stopping treatment. If you’re pregnant or considering pregnancy, ask your doctor about other options that might be right for you. And if you become pregnant while having Imfinzi, talk with your doctor right away.

“Imfinzi’s manufacturer hasn’t said if males receiving the drug need to use birth control. If you have questions about birth control, you should talk to your doctor.”

If Imfinzi can pass into breast milk, you should not feed a child while you receive it. You should not be breastfeeding until at least 3 months have passed since your last dose of Imfinzi. If you are breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about other options.

* In this article, we use the terms “male” and “female” to refer to someone’s sex assigned at birth. For information about the difference between sex and gender, see this article.

Imfinzi is an immunotherapy treatment for certain types of lung cancer. Immunotherapy drugs work with your immune system to attack cancer cells. Imfinzi may be given alone or with other cancer treatments.

Ask your doctor what you can expect during treatment. There are a few questions that you should consider.

  • How long will it take to do something?
  • Will Imfinzi cure my cancer?
  • What should I know when I start Imfinzi treatment?
  • How will Imfinzi affect my life?

You can learn more about treatment options with the help of these articles.

Q:

Is it possible to get vaccines while I receive Imfinzi?

Anonymous

A:

You should talk with your doctor before you get any vaccines.

Imfinzi is an immunotherapy drug. This means it works with your immune system to attack cancer cells. But it isn’t known whether Imfinzi will also affect how your immune system reacts to a vaccine.

One study looked at side effects in people who received inactive flu vaccines while they were taking drugs that work like Imfinzi. In this study, no increase in side effects was seen. Inactive vaccines are made with a killed version of the bacteria or virus. Live vaccines are made using a weakened but living version of the bacteria or virus.

Before you receive Imfinzi, you should talk with your doctor about your vaccine needs. Before you get any vaccine, check with them.

The Healthline Pharmacist TeamAnswers 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 another 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.