People who have fought cancer and won usually have a long line of pharmaceuticals in their past. Old and new cancer drugs are varied sometimes to treat a particular type of cancer but also to fit the needs of the individual patient.
One of the drugs that has been used in the treatment of cancer since the early 40’s is Methotrexate. It is used in chemotherapy.
That is; however, not the drug’s only use. It is also used to treat other conditions that require immune suppressant. These can include, but are not necessarily limited to, asthma, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and Reiter’s disease.
Dosage amounts of Methotrexate can vary greatly, depending upon the disease for which it is being used, the health of the patient and other medications being taken in conjunction with the drug. Methotrexate can be extremely toxic and, therefore, must be monitored with great care.
For use as cancer treatment, Methotrexate doses vary greatly between 10 and 1000 milligrams per day. Much depends on the type of cancer and the need for aggressive or limited treatment.
Dosage amounts of rheumatoid arthritis usually begin below 10 milligrams and are increased as needed up to 20 milligrams per week. Doses are generally scattered among a 12-hour period rather than taken all at once because of the possible toxic effects of this medication.
Used in psoriasis treatment, Methotrexate doses vary between 10 and 25 milligrams per week. Again, doses are generally spread over a 12-hour period.
Common side effects include acne, coughing, diarrhea, excessive sweating, frequent nosebleeds, hair loss, headache, lightheadedness, menstrual irregularity, nausea and vomiting, skin rash or itching and burning, sleepiness, sensitivity to light (especially the sun), sperm count alteration, vaginal discharge. More serious side effects may include altered vision, chest pain, convulsions, hearing problems, high fever, loss of appetite, paralysis, reduced blood platelets, respiratory problems, trouble urinating and blood in urine, unexplained infection and unexplained muscle aches or pain.
Some of those side effects may lessen or disappear as the body becomes use to the drug. However, others may linger and should be reported to your physician.
Severe side effects, including death, are possible with this drug. These could include intestinal perforation, liver irritation, loss of kidney function, lung disease, low blood oxygen levels, pneumonia or pneumocystis and serious skin reactions.
Methotrexate can interact with other drugs, causing health concerns and issues. In some cases NSAIDs have led to serious problems when used in conjunction with Methotrexate. Aspirin can also cause problems among certain individuals.
Used in tandem with other anti-cancer drugs, the effects of Methotrexate can be increased. Therefore, it is important that your physician be made aware if you are taking any other drugs that fall within the same category.
Other drugs, including etretinate, penicillins, phenytoin, probenecid, salicylate, and sulfa drugs can also impact how Methotrexate works within the body. They could increase the drug’s toxic effects, leading to serious health problems or even death.
Using Methotrexate in combination with Methotrexate or phenylbutazone may decrease white blood cells. Only a qualified oncologist can make a call regarding the use of those medications in tandem with one another.
Certain oral antibiotics can counteract the effects of Methotrexate, negating its treatment ability. Always notify your physician before taking any antibiotic in conjunction with Methotrexate.
Certain individuals may not be good candidates for this drug. It is not recommended for use in women who are pregnant or breast-feeding. It is also not recommended for individuals have already have kidney or liver disease.
Methotrexate may be administered in several different ways including pill form. When taken as a pill, it should be swallowed on an empty stomach at least 2 hours after a meal and 2 hours prior to another meal.
Pills should be taken exactly as prescribed and as close to the same time each day as possible. Never double up on a dose of the drug as it can cause a toxic effect within the body that could lead to more serious complications.
An overdose of Methotrexate is serious and must be dealt with quickly. If an overdose it expected, report to an ER facility as quickly as possible.
The Pill Book, 14th Edition by Bantam Books
My personal experience with the drug