Lenalidomide, or Revlimid

Lenalidomide, or Revlimid

This patient-friendly article is about chemotherapy drug, Lenalidomide also known by its trade name Revlimid; it is used to treat multiple myeloma (MM), myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and mantle cell lymphoma (MCL).

It was approved by the FDA in 2005. Lenalidomide is an immunomodulating agent which means it works by affecting the immune system. This means that it affects the growth of certain cancer cells by altering the activity of cytokines. 

There are several ways the medication works - it could prevent the growth of abnormal cells, stimulate the immune system or it could prevent the growth of blood vessels that supply blood and nutrients to the tumour

For patients who have had treatment for multiple myeloma for more than one year, Lenalidomide can be used in combination with dexamethasone.

Approved by

the Medical Board. 

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Lenalidomide is in a pill form and can be easily taken with a glass of water without breaking the capsule. The recommended dosage for patients with MM is 25 mg once a day on day 1-21 repeated 28-day cycles. The recommended dosage of lenalidomide is taken in combination with 40 mg of dexamethasone once a day on days 1-4, 9-12, and 17-20 of each 28-day cycle. 

Common adverse reactions shown in more than 15% of patients with multiple myeloma (MM), myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and  mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) are :

MM: anaemia, fatigue, peripheral oedema including pain in the abdomen and back, bronchitis, cough, rash, tremor, fever or increase in body temperature (pyrexia), low concentration of a type of white blood cell called neutrophils (neutropenia), low platelet counts (thrombocytopenia), etc.

MDS: thrombocytopenia, neutropenia, cough, muscle cramps, shortness of breath (dyspnea), dizziness, common cold (pharyngitis), bleeding from the nose (epistaxis), peripheral oedema, etc.

MCL: thrombocytopenia, neutropenia, cough, diarrhea, peripheral oedema, reduced in numbers of certain white blood cells (leukopenia), constipation, etc.

Precautions :

Embryo-fetal toxicity if lenalidomide is used during pregnancy then it may cause abnormalities in the limbs as lenalidomide is a derivative of thalidomide. 

Hematologic toxicity potential result in neutropenia and thrombocytopenia (low counts of certain white blood cells and platelets) 

Arterial thromboembolism increases the potential in developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). Also, patients with multiple myeloma receiving dexamethasone along with lenalidomide increase the risk of decreased blood flow in the heart resulting in a stroke

Go to: 10 ways to improve your chemotherapy success and reduce side-effects

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