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Pronunciation: “in-ter-loo-kin”

Disclaimer: This patient information sheet summarizes the information about interleukin-2 as prescribed for treatment of advanced kidney cancer and is not meant to substitute for medical advice. If you would like more information, talk with your healthcare team. Every patient is different, and only you and your doctor can decide the best treatment plan for you. Please see our guide on talking to your doctor about treatments for kidney cancer.

Clinigen, Inc.

Patient Assistance Programs (PAP) are financial programs to help cover costs of medical tests and treatments. They are usually offered by drug manufacturers but can also be through individual hospitals, local governments, and private organizations, and each PAP will have different benefits and enrollment requirements and forms. Don’t let the paperwork stop you from getting the help you need and contact the KCA if you need help understanding your options.Patient Assistance Program
None at this time

What type of drug is it?: Immunotherapies are drug treatments that help boost your own immune system to better find and destroy cancer cells, removing them from the body entirely.  Immunotherapy (also called IO or ICI) can be given by itself or in combination with other IO or targeted (TKI) therapies. Immunotherapy.

How is it prescribed? IL-2 is approved to be used alone (as a single agent).

How is it administered?:  This medication is given intravenously, also referred to as an IV (meaning directly into a vein). Administration is given as a hospital in-patient.

How often do I take it?: IL-2 is given over 15 minutes every 8 hours for 5 days; doses may be held depending on side effects.  There are 9 days of rest before this cycle is repeated. 

Each dosage cycle will require a 6-7 day stay in the hospital for special administration and monitoring of side effects.

Storage: This will be handled by the hospital.

Restrictions: None. Please see our guide on what to ask and tell your doctor before starting any medication.

Side Effects: There can be a range of side effects for any medication, and not everyone experiences this treatment in the same way. Some of the common side effects for IL-2 include:

  • Fevers, chills, aches and/or fatigue
  • Rash
  • Swelling
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Low blood pressure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Restlessness/confusion
  • Elevated heart rate or abnormal heart rhythm
  • Abnormal lab values

These are not all the possible side effects, and not all side effects will be completely gone when you are discharged from the hospital. You may have some ongoing side effects like rash, fatigue, diarrhea and mild shortness of breath (particularly when lying flat) for up to a week or more after you get home. Taking prescribed medicines for these side effects should help. However, you should contact your provider if you experience any of the following after being released.   

  • Fever over 100.5 F (38 C) or shaking chills
  • Shortness of breath
  • Diarrhea that is not controlled with medicines
  • Swelling that does not go away in a week
  • Any symptoms that get worse or do not improve

There can be a range of side effects for any medication. It is important to let your doctor know if you are experiencing side effects so they can manage your care and symptoms appropriately. Please see our educational sheet on side effects for more information on what to watch out for and how to talk with your doctor should you experience any of them.    


Revised May 2022
Adapted from the package insert by Clinigen. September 2019