Thalidomide

Learn about your cancer drugs.

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This chemotherapy and cancer drugs article is about Thalidomide which became infamous as a medicine used in the late 1950s as a sleeping pill and to combat the nausea some women experience in pregnancy. It was found to cause birth defects by cutting blood supplies and was banned. However, those properties seemed appropriate in the fight against cancer and in the 1990’s researchers discovered that thalidomide could be used as a cancer drug to treat myeloma.  This cutting of blood supplies means the drug is an angiogenesis inhibitor, which means it can stop cancer developing new blood vessels, thus depriving it of oxygen and nutrients. It can also help with some of the side effects of chemotherapy.  It is taken orally in tablet form.

Newer versions of thalidomide, for example lenalidomide (Revlimid), are more potent with fewer side effects than thalidomide. The drugs seem to both inhibit plasma cell growth in the bone marrow and directly promote the death of cancer cells. In the USA doctors use the combination of lenalidomide with low-dose dexamethasone for many newly diagnosed patients, or for people who have relapsed.

Side effects can include:  fatigue, nausea, constipation, increased risk of blood clots, headache, dizziness, fluid retention. Obviously it is important for both men and women not to be considering conceiving on this drug.

Other articles that you may find interesting are:


  1. Diet for Chemotherapy ;

  2. Beneficial bacteria ;

  3. A-Z guide to complementary therapies;

  4. Your cancer, where you can read about everything from causes to cancer treatments to complementary therapies for your cancer.

  5. How to boost your immune system.

To return to the drug list, click here.

Learn about your cancer drugs.
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