Brand Names

Alimta® (There may be other names for this medication.)

How is Pemetrexed Administered?

This medication is given by infusion into a vein (intravenous or IV).

Why am I Receiving Pemetrexed?

This drug is used to treat non-small cell lung cancer and mesothelioma, cancer of the membrane lining the lungs and abdomen.

How Does it Work?

Cancer is a group of diseases in which abnormal cells reproduce without control. Your chemo schedule is based upon your cancer type, how fast the cancer cells reproduce, and the phase of the cancer cells’ reproductive cycle when the chemo will be most effective. This is why chemotherapy is typically given in cycles.

Pemetrexed is in a class of drugs known as antimetabolites. It is biologically similar to a substance normally found in the cell. The cancer cells take in the pemetrexed and it disrupts their growth and their ability to reproduce. If the cells are unable to divide, they die.

Cancer cells reproduce rapidly. The faster cells are reproducing, the more likely it is that chemotherapy will damage/kill the cells. Unfortunately, chemo affects all cells that reproduce quickly, including some types of normal cells. These are the cells most likely to be affected by chemotherapy — cells that line the digestive tract (mouth, stomach, and intestines), hair follicles, and blood cells.

These normal cells will eventually grow back and be healthy. During treatment, however, you may experience side effects including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, mouth sores, hair loss, and low blood counts. Low blood counts may cause fatigue, anemia, and a significant decrease in your ability to fight off infections.

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