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Generic Name: methotrexate

This medicine affects cells that are rapidly growing, such as cancer cells and cells in your mouth a... more
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What is this medicine?

METHOTREXATE (METH oh TREX ate) is a chemotherapy drug. This medicine affects cells that are rapidly growing, such as cancer cells and cells in your mouth and stomach. It is used to treat many cancers and other medical conditions. It is used for leukemias, lymphomas, breast cancer, lung cancer, head and neck cancers, and other cancers. This medicine also works on the immune system and is commonly used to treat psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis. If used for arthritis or psoriasis, the drug is only given once a week.

What should I tell my health care provider before I take this medicine?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:
  • bleeding or blood disorders
  • HIV-positive or have acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)
  • if you frequently drink alcohol-containing drinks
  • infection or weak immune system
  • kidney disease
  • liver disease
  • lung disease
  • stomach ulcers
  • ulcerative colitis
  • an unusual or allergic reaction to methotrexate, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives
  • pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • breast-feeding

How should I use this medicine?

Take this medicine by mouth. Swallow it with a full glass of water. Follow the directions on the prescription label. Do not take your medicine more often than directed. Finish the full course prescribed by your doctor or health care professional. Do not stop taking except on your doctor's advice.

If you take methotrexate for rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis, the dose is given only once a week. Do not take more frequently.

Talk to your pediatrician regarding the use of this medicine in children. Special care may be needed.

What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose, talk with your doctor or health care professional. Do not take double or extra doses. If you vomit after taking a dose, call your doctor or health care professional for advice.

What may interact with this medicine?

  • antibiotics and other medicines for infections
  • aspirin and aspirin-like medicines including bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol)
  • NSAIDs, medicines for pain and inflammation, like ibuprofen or naproxen
  • probenecid
  • trimetrexate
  • vaccines

What should I watch for while using this medicine?

Visit your doctor or health care professional for checks on your progress. You will need to have regular blood checks. You will also need a chest X-ray before starting the medicine.

If you take the medicine for rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis, you may not see an improvement in your condition for several weeks.

Do not drink alcohol-containing drinks while taking this medicine. Both alcohol and the medicine may cause damage to your liver.

This medicine may increase your risk of getting an infection. Stay away from people who are sick.

To protect your kidneys, drink water or other fluids as directed while you are taking this medicine.

Both men and women must use effective birth control. Use 2 reliable forms of birth control together. Do not become pregnant while taking this medicine. Women should continue to use birth control until after their first normal menstrual cycle after stopping the medicine. Call your doctor right away if you think you or your partner might be pregnant. There is a potential for serious side effects to an unborn child. Talk to your health care professional or pharmacist for more information. Do not breast-feed an infant while taking this medicine. Men should continue to use birth control for at least 3 months after stopping the medicine.

If you are going to have surgery or dental work, tell your health care professional that you are taking this medicine.

This medicine can make you more sensitive to the sun. Keep out of the sun. If you cannot avoid being in the sun, wear protective clothing and use sunscreen. Do not use sun lamps or tanning beds/booths.

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All visitors to AARP.org should seek expert medical care and consult their own physicians for any specific health issues. Read this disclaimer in its entirety.
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Note: This information is not intended to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions, or adverse effects for this drug. If you have question about the drug(s) you are taking, check with your health care professional.
 
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