Tecentriq (atezolizumab) is a prescription brand-name medication. It’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat certain types of the following cancers in adults:
- liver cancer
- non-small cell lung cancer
- small cell lung cancer
- triple-negative breast cancer
- urothelial cancer (a type of bladder and urinary tract cancer)
Tecentriq may be used short term or long term for treating these cancers. Depending on the condition Tecentriq is treating, the drug may be used alone or in combination with other cancer medications, including chemotherapy.
Here are some fast facts on Tecentriq:
- Active ingredient: atezolizumab, which is a
- Drug class: immunotherapy
- Drug form: liquid solution for intravenous (IV) infusion
As with other drugs, Tecentriq can cause side effects. Read on to learn about potential common, mild, and serious side effects. For a general overview of Tecentriq, including details about its uses, see this article.
These are just a few of the more common side effects reported by people who took Tecentriq in clinical studies. These side effects can vary depending on which condition the drug is being used to treat and whether Tecentriq is used alone or with other medications.
More common side effects in people using Tecentriq by itself include:
More common side effects in people using Tecentriq with the cancer drugs cobimetinib (Cotellic) and vemurafenib (Zelboraf) to treat melanoma include:
- skin rash
- muscle pain
- liver damage and liver-related lab test results that are abnormal
More common side effects in people using Tecentriq with the cancer drug paclitaxel protein-bound (Abraxane) to treat triple-negative breast cancer include:
Mild side effects can occur with Tecentriq use. This list doesn’t include all possible mild side effects of the drug. For more information, you can refer to Tecentriq’s medication guide.
Mild side effects that have been reported with Tecentriq include:
- decreased appetite
- decreased levels of hemoglobin
- leukopenia (decreased levels of white blood cells)
- weakness or fatigue (lack of energy)
- hair loss
- high blood pressure
- muscle pain
- protein in your urine
- skin rash
- shortness of breath
- tingling in your hands or feet
These side effects may be temporary, lasting a few days or weeks. But if the side effects last longer than that, bother you, or become severe, be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Note: After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a drug, it tracks side effects of the medication. If you develop a side effect while using Tecentriq and want to tell the FDA about it, visit MedWatch.
Tecentriq may cause serious side effects. The list below may not include all possible serious side effects of the drug. For more information, you can refer to Tecentriq’s medication guide.
If you develop serious side effects while using Tecentriq, call your doctor right away. If the side effects seem life threatening or you think you’re having a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number.
Serious side effects that have been reported include immune system problems. These can affect many different parts of your body and cause issues such as:
- Endocrine gland problems. Symptoms can include:
- Intestinal problems. Symptoms can include:
- black or tarry stool
- severe belly pain or tenderness
- Kidney problems. Symptoms can include:
- decreased appetite
- producing less urine than normal
- swelling in your ankles
- Liver problems. Symptoms can include:
- unusual bruising or bleeding, such as bleeding more than normal
- jaundice (yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes)
- nausea or vomiting
- dark-colored urine
- Lung problems. Symptoms can include:
- chest pain
- Skin problems. Symptoms can include:
- peeling or blistering skin
- sores or ulcers (a type of open wound) in your genitals, mouth, nose, or throat
- Severe infusion reactions.*
- Allergic reaction.*
* To learn more information about this side effect, see “Side effect specifics” below.
Tecentriq may cause several side effects. Here are some frequently asked questions about the drug’s side effects and their answers.
How long do Tecentriq side effects last?
It depends on the side effect. Some side effects of Tecentriq, such as nausea, may not last long. Mild side effects of the drug may go away on their own after a few hours or days.
Other side effects, such as liver problems, may not be reversible. So it’s possible they won’t go away.
If you have questions about how long a specific side effect may last while using Tecentriq, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can help address any questions you have and may be able to suggest ways to treat side effects due to Tecentriq.
Does Tecentriq cause hair loss?
Some people have reported hair loss while using Tecentriq in clinical trials.
Hair loss was more common in people using Tecentriq with:
- other cancer medications to treat small cell and non-small cell lung cancer
- the cancer drug paclitaxel protein-bound (Abraxane) to treat triple-negative breast cancer
If you have issues with hair loss while using Tecentriq, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They may be able to suggest ways to treat this side effect. They may also be able to suggest treatment options other than Tecentriq.
Learn more about some of the side effects that Tecentriq may cause.
Severe infusion reactions
Although rare, severe infusion reactions may occur with Tecentriq.
The medication comes as a liquid solution that’s given as an intravenous (IV) infusion. With an infusion, a drug is dripped into a vein over time. Infusion reactions are side effects that can occur during or shortly after getting an infusion.
People who used Tecentriq in clinical trials reported infusion reactions, including rare cases that were severe or life threatening.
Symptoms of an infusion reaction can include:
What you can do
A healthcare professional will monitor you while you receive your Tecentriq infusions. If you have an infusion reaction, they may:
- temporarily stop the infusion
- slow down the infusion rate
- have you stop using Tecentriq if your reaction is severe or bothersome to you
Your doctor may have you use premedications before your Tecentriq infusion. These are drugs that may help prevent infusion reactions. For more information about premedications, talk with your doctor.
With fatigue, you lack energy. This can occur even if you get enough sleep and consume the proper amount of calories for you.
Fatigue was a common side effect reported by people who used Tecentriq in clinical trials, regardless of the condition the drug was treating. In these trials, some people stopped using Tecentriq due to a side effect. Fatigue was one of the most common reasons for stopping treatment with the medication.
What you can do
Keep in mind that fatigue can also be a symptom caused by the cancers Tecentriq is used to treat.
If you experience fatigue while using Tecentriq, talk with your doctor. They may be able to recommend ways to improve your energy level. But if fatigue is bothering you, your doctor may suggest other medications for your condition.
Nausea was another common but mild side effect reported by people who used Tecentriq in clinical trials.
People who used Tecentriq with the drug bevacizumab (Avastin) to treat liver cancer didn’t report nausea as a common side effect. But nausea was common with the other conditions Tecentriq is used to treat.
What you can do
Keep in mind that nausea can also be a symptom of the cancers Tecentriq is prescribed to treat. In addition, some of the medications Tecentriq is used with to treat these cancers may cause nausea as well.
If you experience nausea while using Tecentriq, talk with your doctor. They may be able to suggest ways to help ease this side effect. But if nausea is bothersome to you, your doctor may recommend other medications for your condition.
As with most drugs, Tecentriq can cause an allergic reaction in some people.
Symptoms can be mild or serious and can include:
- skin rash
- flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)
- swelling under your skin, typically in your lips, eyelids, feet, or hands
- swelling of your mouth, tongue, or throat, which can make it hard to breathe
What you can do
For mild symptoms of an allergic reaction, call your doctor right away. They may recommend ways to ease your symptoms and determine whether you should keep using Tecentriq. But if your symptoms are serious and you think you’re having a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number.
Be sure to talk with your doctor about your health history before you use Tecentriq. This drug may not be the right treatment for your condition if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. The conditions and factors to consider include:
Current infection. Tecentriq may make an existing infection worse. They drug can also increase your risk for other infections. Before you use Tecentriq, be sure to tell your doctor if you have an existing infection. They’ll typically treat the infection before you begin treatment with Tecentriq.
Immune system condition. Tecentriq can worsen an existing immune system condition, such as Crohn’s disease. Before you use Tecentriq, talk with your doctor if you have an existing immune system condition. They can help determine if the drug is right for you.
Liver, lung, or other organ problems. Tecentriq may cause immune reactions that can affect nearly any organ in your body, including your liver and lungs. If you already have a problem that affects these organs, you may be at a higher risk for these side effects.
Before you use Tecentriq, talk with your doctor about your entire health history, including any lung or liver problems. Your doctor may monitor you more carefully than usual during your Tecentriq treatment. Or they may recommend a medication other than Tecentriq to treat your cancer.
Nervous system problems. Tecentriq may not be safe for you if you have certain nervous system problems, such as myasthenia gravis. This is because Tecentriq can cause side effects related to your nervous system. If you already have a nervous system problem, using Tecentriq may make your condition worse. Your doctor may recommend a medication other than Tecentriq to treat your cancer if you have a nervous system problem.
Organ transplant. Tecentriq can cause immune system cells to attack a transplanted organ. If you’ve received an organ transplant, be sure your doctor is aware of that before you use Tecentriq. They may recommend a medication other than Tecentriq to treat your cancer.
Radiation therapy to your chest. Tecentriq can cause immune system problems, which could affect your lungs. The risk of this side effect may be higher if you have previously received radiation therapy to your chest. Your doctor may recommend a medication other than Tecentriq to treat your cancer if you’ve received radiation therapy to your chest in the past.
Allergic reaction. You shouldn’t use Tecentriq If you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to Tecentriq or any of its ingredients. Talk with your doctor about which other treatments are better choices for your condition.
Alcohol use with Tecentriq
There aren’t known interactions between consuming alcohol and being treated with Tecentriq.
However, alcohol may interact with other medications that are sometimes used with Tecentriq. Alcohol may also increase your risk for certain side effects of Tecentriq, such as liver problems or nausea.
If you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor about how much is safe for you to consume during your Tecentriq treatment.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding while using Tecentriq
Here’s some information about Tecentriq, pregnancy, and breastfeeding.
Pregnancy. You shouldn’t use Tecentriq while pregnant. The drug may cause a loss of pregnancy. If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, tell your doctor before starting Tecentriq treatment. It’s likely that they will recommend a medication other than Tecentriq to treat your cancer.
Breastfeeding. You should avoid breastfeeding while using Tecentriq and for at least 5 months after your last dose of the drug. It’s not known if Tecentriq passes into breast milk, but the drug could cause serious side effects in a child who is breastfed. If you’re breastfeeding or thinking about it, talk with your doctor about healthy feeding options for your child and other treatments.
Like most drugs, Tecentriq can cause some mild side effects. Most of these are manageable, go away with time, and don’t require medical attention.
However, you should talk with your doctor if you experience symptoms of serious side effects. These side effects include:
You should also talk with your doctor if you become pregnant while using Tecentriq. It isn’t safe to use the drug while pregnant.
If you’d like to learn more about Tecentriq, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can help answer any questions you have about side effects from using the drug.
Besides talking with your doctor, you can do some research on your own. These articles might help:
- More information on Tecentriq. For details on other aspects of Tecentriq, refer to this article.
- Drug comparison. To learn how Tecentriq compares with Imfinzi, read this article.
- A look at your condition. For details on cancer, see our cancer hub. You can also refer to our lists of:
Disclaimer: Medical News Today 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.