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Yervoy (ipilimumab) & Opdivo (nivolumab) for kidney cancer

Yervoy & Opdivo is a combination treatment for patients with newly diagnosed advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC).


Ipilimumab:  1 mg per kg body weight administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every 3 weeks for a total of 4 infusions

Nivolumab:  3 mg per kg body weight administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every 3 weeks for a total of 4 infusions

Treatment will continue with Nivolumab 240mg administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every 2 weeks. It can also be given at a dose of 480mg every 4 weeks. Your doctor will determine which dose and infusion schedule is most appropriate for you.

Route of Administration:  Ipilimumab and nivolumab are given as IV infusions by a healthcare provider in a clinic or medical office.

Schedule:  Ipilimumab and nivolumab are given every 3 weeks for 4 infusions. Then Nivolumab will be given every two or 4 weeks depending on the dose.

How long should I take ipilimumab and nivolumab?

  • You will receive 4 treatments of the combined treatment, based on side effects.
  • Your doctor will determine how long to treat you with the combination based on test results and side effects that you experience.
  • can cause certain side effects by enhancing how your immune system works. This can cause symptoms to occur in any body system which may need to be treated. This could delay or stop your treatment with ipilimumab and nivolumab.
  • You will need frequent medical tests to help your doctor determine if it is safe for you to continue receiving ipilimumab and nivolumab.

Dietary restrictions: Follow your doctor’s instructions about any restrictions of food, beverages, medications or activities

I should tell my healthcare provider if  have:

  • Lung disease or breathing problems
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • A thyroid disorder
  • An autoimmune disorder such as lupus, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Guillian-Barre syndrome
  • Received an organ transplant.

For females, tell your doctor if you:

  • Are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Taking ipilimumab and nivolumab during pregnancy may cause harm to the unborn baby. You should not become pregnant while you are taking ipilimumab and nivolumab. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy while using this medicine and for at least 5 months after your last dose. Talk to your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
  • Are breast-feeding or plan to breast-feed. It is not known if ipilimumab and nivolumab pass into your breast milk. You should not breast-feed while taking these medicines.

Tell your healthcare provider about all the medications you take (including prescription and non-prescription medicine, vitamins, and herbal supplements) before starting treatment, and also before you add any new medication. Your treatment may affect the way other medicines work and other medicines may affect how ipilimumab and nivolumab work.

Know the medicines you take. Keep a list of them to show your doctor and pharmacist and update the list when you add a new medicine.

What are the possible side effects of ipilimumab and nivolumab?

Common side effects of ipilimumab and nivolumab include:

  • diarrhea
  • rash, itchy skin
  • fatigue-feeling tired
  • pain in muscles or joints
  • shortness of breath
  • fever
  • nausea
  • hypothyroidism

These are not all of the possible side effects of ipilimumab and nivolumab. Talk to your healthcare team for more information.

Call your provider and healthcare team at once if you experience any new symptoms.

Yervoy & Opdivo may cause serious side effects. A serious side effect is a side effect that can sometimes become life-threatening. They can happen anytime during treatment or even after your treatment has ended.

Serious side effects may include:

  • Lung problems (pneumonitis): cough, chest pain, shortness of breath.
  • Intestinal problems (colitis): diarrhea, blood or mucus in your stools, severe stomach (abdominal) pain, weight loss
  • Liver problems (hepatitis): nausea and vomiting, right sided pain, dark urine, yellow skin or eyes, decreased appetite, fatigue, easy bruising or bleeding (labs are checked frequently and will usually show liver problems before symptoms are experienced).
  • Hormone gland problems (especially thyroid, pituitary, adrenal, and pancreas): headaches, extreme tiredness, weight changes, dizziness, mood changes, hair loss, feeling cold, changes in voice (gets deeper), frequent urination or increase thirst (if blood sugar is high), mood changes.
  • Kidney problems (nephritis and kidney failure): decrease in amount of urine, blood in your urine, swelling in ankles, loss of appetite.
  • Skin problems: rash, itching, skin blistering, mouth sores, throat soreness.
  • Inflammation of the brain (encephalitis): headache, fever, weakness, confusion, memory problems, sleepiness, hallucinations, seizures, stiff neck.
  • Problems in other organs: changes in eyesight, severe muscle or joint pain, severe muscle weakness, numbness or tingling in hands/feet.
  • Infusion reaction: fever, chills, rash, itching, skin flushing, trouble breathing, feeling faint or dizzy.

Call your healthcare team immediately if you have any new symptoms.

General information about Yervoy & Opdivo: This patient information sheet summarizes the most important information about Yervoy & Opdivo. If you would like more information, talk with your doctor. Your healthcare provider is the best source of information about your health.

Patient Assistance Program:  Access Support is a reimbursement program from the company that markets Yervoy & Opdivo, Bristol-Myers Squibb. To enroll, speak to your healthcare provider, or go to 1-800-861-0048, 8AM to 8PM ET Monday -Friday


Yervoy Patient Call Center 1-800-861-0048 8AM to 8PM ET Monday –Friday.


Opdivo Patient Call Center 1-855-OPDIVO-1 (1-855-673-4861) 8AM to 8PM ET Monday –Friday.


Adapted from the Yervoy (ipilimumab) package insert. Bristol-Myers Squibb, November 2020 and the Opdivo (nivolumab) package insert. Bristol-Myers Squibb, January 2021.

KCA disclaimer statement: you should rely primarily upon your doctor for medical information.