Pemetrexed - Alimta

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Chemotherapy

Pemetrexed (Alimta)
is used in combination with cisplatin in the treatment of pleural mesothelioma and non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer. It is chemically similar to folic acid and it works by inhibiting spedific enzymes that are necessary for the formation of DNA and RNA and thus the survival of cancer cells (and also normal cells).
As a first-line treatment it is generally given through a PICC or central line and takes about 15 minutes.  The cisplatin delivered separately - takes longer, perhaps up to an hour. 
Anti-sickness drugs may be given prior to the treatment and patients and fluids are also administered before and after to support the kidneys.  Folic acid and vitamin B12 should be taken prior to the treatment to help reduce side-effects. Doses will be recommended by your doctor.
 
Generally pemetrexed and cisplatin regimes are given in a cycle of four to six treatments that extend over a number of months, with rest periods throughout.
Pemetrexed can also be used on its own after prior chemotherapy as a maintenance treatment for those with NSCLC who have not had disease progression after the initial course of treatment.
 
Side effects can include:  Nausea and vomiting, lowered resistance to infection, bruising or bleeding (for example, nosebleeds),  anaemia, mouth ulcers, diarrhoea, fatigue, peripheral neuropathy (tingling or numbness in the hands and feet), rashes. 
Also see side-effects of cisplatin click here (which can affect hearing).
Learn about your cancer drugs.
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