Why is cisplatin and pemetrexed prescribed?
Pemetrexed and cisplatin are a combination of two chemotherapy drugs. It is useful to treat non-small cell lung cancer and pleural mesothelioma.
Pemetrexed is in a class of medications called antifolate antineoplastic agents. Cisplatin is in a class of medications known as platinum-containing compounds. These chemotherapy drugs work by destroying quickly dividing cells (cancer cells).
How should cisplatin and pemetrexed be used?
You will be given pemetrexed and cisplatin in the chemotherapy day unit. A chemotherapy nurse will give it to you. Pemetrexed and cisplatin can be given with other cancer drugs.
Your nurse will give you anti-sickness (anti-emetic) drugs before the chemotherapy. The chemotherapy drugs can be given through:
- a short thin tube the nurse puts into a vein in your arm or hand (cannula)
- a fine tube that goes under the skin of your chest and into a vein close by (central line)
- a fine tube that is put into a vein in your arm and goes up into a vein in your chest (PICC line).
The nurse will give you the drug as a drip (infusion). The pemetrexed will be given over 10 minutes and the cisplatin infusion takes about two hours. You will be given extra fluids through your drip before and after the cisplatin to protect your kidneys.
What special precautions should I follow?
BEFORE RECEIVING CISPLATIN AND PEMETREXED
Before you start pemetrexed and cisplatin, take medicines to help reduce side effects. These medicines include:
- vitamin B12 injections
- folic acid tablets
- steroid tablets.
A nurse will give you an injection of vitamin B12 in the week before your first pemetrexed treatment. You will then have a vitamin B12 injection with every third pemetrexed treatment (about every 9 weeks).
You will take a folic acid tablet every day. Start taking it 5 days before your first pemetrexed treatment and continue taking it until 3 weeks after your last treatment.
Take the folic acid tablets prescribed by your cancer doctor. Some multivitamins or food supplements contain folic acid. Always talk to your cancer doctor before taking any other vitamins or food supplements.
Your physician will give you steroids tablets to help prevent skin reactions, such as an itchy rash. You take the steroids for 3 days, with each treatment, starting the day before you have pemetrexed. Always take your tablets exactly as explained by the nurse or pharmacist.
What side effects can cisplatin and pemetrexed cause?
Cisplatin and pemetrexed may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
Serious side effects
If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
In case of emergency/overdose
Contact your doctor or nurse immediately if you have signs of infection, including a temperature above 37.5C or below 36C.
What other information should I know?
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. Bring this list each time you visit a doctor. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
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