Methotrexate
DESCRIPTION

This is the generic name of a drug which is prescribed to treat cancers such as leukemia and rheumatoid arthritis. It has been included in the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines.

How It Works

Methotrexate works in different ways to treat cancers and rheumatoid arthritis. This drug can inhibit growth cells such as cancer cells that rapidly multiply. Dihydrofolate reductase is an enzyme that covert dihydrofolic acid to tetrahydrofolic acid. The latter is a type of folic acid which is able to metabolize amino acids. This acid is vital for cellular replication, DNA and RNA synthesis which is a contributory to growing cancers.

Methotrexate acts by minimizing the amount of tetrahydrofolic acid produced by your body, thus, modulating the growth of unwanted and harmful cells.

Medical studies reveal that it is unclear how Methotrexate works to cure rheumatoid arthritis. A possible explanation is that it effects the immune system.

Uses

Methotrexate treats certain types of cancers in the blood, breast, lungs, skin and head as well as rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis that do not trigger a reaction to other drugs and treatments.

Dosage

Methotrexate should be taken only one or twice a week. There have been cases when patients have exceeded the limit of the dose and died. To obtain the right dosage suitable for you, consult your physician.

Methotrexate is administered in quantities of 15 to 30 mg per day for persons with Trophoblastic Diseases. It is usually a 5 day course and can be repeated if required and prescribed by your physician.

For patients with Leukemia, Methotrexate works best with a combination of other anti-leukemic drugs. The usual dose is twice a week that amounts to a total weekly dose of 30 mg/m². Sometimes it is administered in doses of 2.5 mg/kg within every 14 days.

The recommended initial dosage for persons with adult rheumatoid arthritis is 7.5 mg once in every week. The starting dose for juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is 10 mg/m² once a week.

Persons with psoriasis are recommended to start with a dose of 10 to 25 mg once a week.

Side Effects

Some of the common side effects of Methotrexate are:

Nausea
Vomiting
Abdominal pains
Drowsiness
Temporary hair loss
Black tarry stools
Diarrhea
Bloody stools, urine or vomit
Flushing of skin
Sores or boils in mouth or lips
Joint aches
Acne

In addition, this medication is known to lower blood cells that fight infections. It also reduces the production of sperm in males thereby reducing their fertility.

Precautions

Do not use this medication if you are pregnant or breast feeding.

Methotrexate should not be taken to treat rheumatoid arthritis if you have liver disease, anemia, bone marrow disorder or an addiction to alcohol.

For your doctor to decide if Methotrexate is safe for you, be sure to tell him if you have experienced any of the following.

Kidney disease
Stomach ulcers
Lung disease
Infections
Radiation treatment

Self-Care

Use effective contraceptives when using this medication regardless of being male or female. Methotrexate is a strong drug and can cause anomalies to your unborn baby.

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