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    Information about Methotrexate

    Methotrexate uses

    Methotrexate is used in the treatment of blood cancer, bone cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), breast cancer, lung cancer, head and neck cancer, cervical cancer, ovarian cancer and testicular cancer. It is also used in rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis (silvery scaly skin rash) and ectopic pregnancy at low doses.

    How methotrexate works

    Methotrexate is an anticancer and immunosuppressive medication. It works in cancer by slowing the growth of cancer cells by blocking building blocks that cancer cells need to grow. It also works in autoimmune disease by decreasing the activity of body's immune system and prevents the body from attacking itself.

    Common side effects of methotrexate

    Nausea, Vomiting, Loss of appetite, Dyspepsia, Abdominal pain, Increased liver enzymes, Stomatitis (Inflammation of the mouth)

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    Expert advice for Methotrexate

    • For autoimmune diseases, Methotrexate is taken by mouth, once a week (not every day) on the same day each week. It can take 2 to 3 weeks for Methotrexate to start working.
    • Notify your doctor immediately if you develop a sore throat or fever (infection), bruising or bleeding, nausea, abdominal pain or dark urine or difficulty breathing.
    • Your doctor may ask to get complete blood count (CBC), kidney function test (KFT) and liver function test (LFT) before starting treatment and thereafter also.
    • Methotrexate may harm your unborn babies or cause miscarriages. You and your partner should avoid conception (becoming pregnant or fathering children) for at least three months after your treatment with Methotrexate has stopped.
    • Inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to conceive or breastfeeding.
    • Inform your doctor if you have ever been diagnosed with kidney or liver problems.

    Frequently asked questions for Methotrexate


    Q. Is Methotrexate a steroid/ chemotherapy/ disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARD)/ non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)?

    Methotrexate is not a steroid or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It is a chemotherapy drug used in the treatment of different types of cancer and it is also a disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARD) used in the treatment of severe rheumatoid arthritis

    Q. Is Methotrexate safe for psoriasis?

    Methotrexate belongs to a class of drugs known as antimetabolites used to treat severe, uncontrolled psoriasis. Methotrexate is safe if used at prescribed doses for the prescribed duration as advised by your doctor

    Q. Is Methotrexate safe/ How long can I take Methotrexate for?

    Methotrexate is safe if used at prescribed doses for the prescribed duration as advised by your doctor

    Q. Is Methotrexate a narcotic/ biologic drug?

    No. Methotrexate is not a narcotic drug/ biologic drug

    Q. Does Methotrexate cause weight gain/ weight loss/ fatigue/ diarrhea/ acne/ mood swings/ nausea/ infertility?

    Methotrexate may cause side effects such as fatigue, diarrhea, acne, mood swings, nausea, and infertility. But it has no known effect on weight gain/ weight loss

    Q. Does Methotrexate cause cancer?

    Methotrexate belongs to a class of drugs known as antimetabolites. It is used for the treatment of wide range of cancer and tumors. However it may increase the risk of secondary malignancies such as melanoma and other cancers.

    Content on this page was last updated on 22 March, 2018, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)