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Raltitrexed

Raltitrexed is a chemotherapy drug used to treat malignant mesothelioma as well as cancer of the colon and rectum.  It belongs to a class of medications known as antimetabolites.

Raltitrexed restricts the growth of cancer cells and ultimately destroys them by blocking an enzyme needed by the cells to live.  Other effects will also occur as some normal cells may be affected by blocked enzymes while using raltitrexed.  Some side effects may be serious and many can be bothersome and should be discussed with your mesothelioma doctor.

This medicine is sometimes given in combination with other medications.  If you are using a combination therapy, it is important that you receive each one at the proper time.  The dosage, time between doses, and length of time prescribed will be different for different patients dependent on the strength of the medicine and the medical problem.  Your doctor should be contacted for instructions if a dose is missed.

Before beginning any treatment, including raltitrexed, you should discuss the benefits and risks of using the medication.

Precautions

Raltitrexed should only be taken under the immediate supervision of your doctor.  It is important to have regular visits to check your progress with your mesothelioma physician while taking raltitrexed to ensure the medication is working properly and not causing unwanted effects.

The use of raltitrexed may be affected by chickenpox, shingles, infection, kidney disease or liver disease and your doctor should be made aware of the presence of these illnesses should they occur before or during raltitrexed treatment.

Be sure you know how you react to raltitrexed before driving, using machinery, or any other activities that may be unsafe if you are less alert.  This medicine may cause some mesothelioma patients to feel unusually tired or ill.

Drug interactions can occur from eating certain food types or taking certain medications with food.  The use of alcohol or tobacco with raltitrexed may cause reactions to occur.  Talk to your doctor about the use of raltitrexed with food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Do not have any immunizations, or vaccinations, without approval from your doctor during or after raltitrexed treatment.  Raltitrexed may lower your body's resistance and the introduction of an immunization may cause the infection you are trying to prevent.  Additionally, no one living in your household should take an oral polio vaccine as they may pass the polio virus to you. To avoid infection, anyone who has taken the oral polio vaccine within several months should be avoided.  If you cannot take these precautions, a protective face mask that covers the nose and mouth should be considered.

The number of white blood cells in your blood can temporarily be lowered by raltitrexed treatment, increasing the chance of infection.  Platelets, required for proper blood clotting, may also be lowered by raltitrexed.  To reduce the risk of infection and bleeding if this occurs, the following precautions can be taken:

  • Be careful not to cut yourself when you are using sharp objects such as fingernail or toenail cutters or a razor.
  • Avoid contact sports or other situations where bruising or injury could occur.
  • Avoid people with infections.  Contact your doctor immediately if you have a fever or chills, cough or hoarseness, lower back or side pain, painful or difficult urination or if you think you are getting an infection.
  • Do not touch the inside of your nose or your eyes unless you have just washed your hands.
  • Consult your physician immediately if you have any unusual bleeding or bruising; black, tarry stools; blood in urine or stools; or pinpoint red spots on your skin.
  • Be cautious when using a regular toothbrush, dental floss, or toothpick.  Your doctor, dentist, or nurse may recommend alternative ways to clean your teeth and gums.  Check with your mesothelioma doctor before having any dental work done.

Raltitrexed Side Effects

As raltitrexed works as it is intended, other effects may occur as some normal cells may also be affected by blocked enzymes.  Below you will find side effects that may be caused by raltitrexed medication.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

  • Pale skin, troubled breathing, unusual bleeding or bruising, unusual tiredness or weakness
  • Black, tarry stools, chest pain, chills, cough, fever, painful or difficult urination, shortness of breath, sore throat, sores, ulcers, or white spots on lips or in mouth, swollen glands
  • Increase in bowel movements, loose stools, soft stools
  • Dizziness, fainting, fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat, decreased urine output, dilated neck veins,      extreme fatigue, irregular breathing, swelling of face, fingers, feet, or lower legs, tightness in chest, weight gain, wheezing

Some side effects may not need medical attention, and may disappear or lessen as your body adjusts to the medication.  These side effects can still be inconvenient and your doctor can answer questions and may be able to help you prevent or reduce them.

  • Stomach or abdomen pain
  • Loss of appetite, weight loss
  • Constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lack or loss of strength
  • General feeling of discomfort or illness, headache, joint pain, muscle aches and pains, runny nose, shivering, sweating, trouble sleeping
  • Rash
  • Bloating or swelling of face, arms, hands, lower legs, or feet, rapid weight gain, tingling of hands or feet
  • Hair loss, thinning of hair
  • Change in taste, bad unusual or unpleasant (after)taste