What Pemetrexed is and what it is used for?
- Pemetrexed belongs to a group of drugs called antimetabolites. It exerts its anti-cancer effects by inhibiting production of folate that is essential for the formation of DNA and RNA.This cell damage stops the growth of cancer cells, causing the cells to die.
- Pemetrexed is used as a single agent or in combination with cisplatin or other medicines to treat non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and malignant pleural mesothelioma (a form of lung cancer associated with exposure to asbestos).
How Pemetrexed is given?
- Pemetrexed is given as an infusion into the vein over 10 minutes.
What should I know while receiving Pemetrexed?
- Do not receive this drug when you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Men and women should use effective contraception during treatment and for at least 3and6 months after the last dose.
- This drug may affect fertility. You can talk to your doctor about methods of preserving fertility before treatment starts.
- To minimize the chance of side effects, the doctor will give you folic acid and vitamin B12 before, during and after treatment. Take these medicines exactly as ordered by your doctor.
- You will be checked regularly by your doctor to make sure you have enough blood cells and have adequate organ functions to receive pemetrexed. The timing and dosing of your treatment may be changed based on the test results or other side effects.
- Do not receive any kind of vaccination without doctor's approval.
- There are many drugs may affect how pemetrexed works. Tell your doctor about all the medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
- The existing health problems may affect the use of pemetrexed. You should let your doctor know if you have ever received radiation therapy or if you have any other medical problems, especially if you have liver or kidney problems.
Common side effects
- Low white blood cell count
You may have a higher risk of getting infections. Try to stay away from crowds and wash hands often. Tell your doctor right away if you have repeated fevers, coughing, stuffy nose, a painful urination or wound that becomes red and swollen.
- Low red blood cell count
You may look pale and get tired more easily. Let your doctor know if you experience any difficulty breathing or dizziness when changing positions.
- Low platelet count
You may have a higher risk of bleeding. Let your doctor know if you find red or purple dots on the skin, bleeding from the nose or gums, or any bruising or bleeding that you cannot explain.
- Diarrhea or constipation
Talk to your doctor and ask for advice. Drinking plenty of water and dietary changes can improve the conditions.
- Nausea and vomiting
Medicines may be given before the treatment to prevent it happening. Eating and drinking often in small amounts may reduce the discomfort.
- Loss of appetite
Try to eat in small quantities and have frequent meals. If your appetite does not get any better after a few days, tell your doctor.
- Mouth sores
Your doctor can give you medicines that help you ease the discomfort. Good mouth care will help prevent mouth sores.
- Cough or trouble breathing
You may have sore throat or stuffy nose without any signs of infection. Talk to your doctor if this side effect bothers you.
- Weakness and fatigue
Try to pace yourself and rest as much as possible. Seek medical advice if fatigue does not go away when you rest and sleep.
- Skin rash
A rash can be itchy, red, or painful. Tell your doctor about any skin changes that you have, they can give you medicines and advices that help you feel better.
Less common side effects
- Allergic reactions
This may happen during or shortly after the infusion, causing rash, dizziness, fever and chills, facial swelling, breathing difficulties, and a drop in blood pressure. Tell your nurse right away if you feel unwell during an infusion.
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
Symptoms normally get better slowly once the treatment is over. Protect areas where sensation is decreased and let your doctor know any unusual feeling you have.
- Swelling of lower legs or hands
Tell your doctor if your hands, arms, legs, or feet feel puffy or tender. The doctor may give medicines to reduce your symptoms and suggest ways to prevent fluid buildup.
- Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water every day can help make your recovery a smoother process.
- Alcohol and cigarettes may interfere with certain medicines or worsen side effects from chemotherapy treatment. It is wise to avoid alcohol and cigarette smoking during cancer treatment. If you have any problem about drinking alcohol and smoking, you should check with your doctor.