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Thalidomide is used in the treatment of multiple myeloma (a type of blood cancer) and lepra reaction

How it works

Thalidomide modulates the activity of body's immune system and helps indirectly attacking the cancer cells. It also stops the growth of blood vessels in cancer.

Common side effects

Peripheral neuropathy, Blood clot in the lungs, Rash, Bradycardia, Bronchopneumopathy, Cardiac failure, Chills, Confusion, Constipation, Coordination impaired, Decreased blood cell count, Deep vein thrombosis, Depression, Dizziness, Dry mouth, Dry skin, Dysaesthesia (unpleasant sensation felt when touched), Shortness of breath, Fever, Interstitial lung disease, Lung infection, Sleepiness, Swelling, Toxic skin eruption, Tremor, Vomiting, Weakness, Abnormal sensation in skin

Available Medicine

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Expert advice

  • Use an effective method of contraception for 4 weeks before starting treatment, during treatment, and until 4 weeks after stopping treatment. 
  • Before taking thalidomide inform your doctor if you have had a heart attack, have ever had a blood clotting related disorder, or if you smoke, have high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels, have existing slow heart rate (this may be symptoms of bradycardia), existing neuropathy i.e. tingling, abnormal co-ordination or pain in your hands or feet, sleepiness, a condition called Tumor Lysis Syndrome, severe infections. 
  • Consult a doctor if you develop allergic reaction such as rash, itching, swelling, dizziness or trouble breathing during thalidomide therapy. 
  • Avoid donating blood during thalidomide treatment and for 1 week after stopping treatment. 
  • Do not drive or operate machinery as thalidomide may cause fatigue, dizziness, somnolence and blurred vision.
  • Tell your doctor if you are or planning to become pregnant or are breastfeeding.

Content on this page was last updated on 05 January, 2017, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)