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Pemetrexed and carboplatin

Find out what pemetrexed and carboplatin is, how you have it and other important information about having pemetrexed and carboplatin.

Pemetrexed and carboplatin is a chemotherapy drug combination. They are also known by their brand names:

  • carboplatin is also called Paraplatin
  • pemetrexed is also called Alimta

This combination is treatment for non small cell lung cancer.

How pemetrexed and carboplatin work

These chemotherapy drugs destroy quickly dividing cells, such as cancer cells.

How you have it

Pemetrexed and carboplatin drugs are liquids. You have them as a drip into your bloodstream (intravenously). 

Drugs into your bloodstream

You have the treatment through a drip into your arm. A nurse puts a small tube (a cannula) into one of your veins and connects the drip to it.

You might need a central line. This is a long plastic tube that gives the drugs into a large vein, either in your chest or through a vein in your arm. It stays in while you’re having treatment, which may be for a few months.

When you have it

You usually have pemetrexed and carboplatin as cycles of treatment. Each cycle of treatment lasts 3 weeks. 

You might need to go to your clinic 2 weeks after you have each treatment for a check up. Depending on your needs, you may have 4 to 6 treatments, taking 3 to 6 months in total. 

You have each treatment cycle in the following way: 

Day 1
  • You have pemetrexed as a drip into your bloodstream
  • You have carboplatin as a drip into your bloodstream
Day 2 to 21
  • You have no treatment

Then your next treatment cycle starts. It takes about 1 to 2 hours each time you have it. 

To help reduce the side effects

Pemetrexed is a type of drug known as an anti folate. It blocks the action of folic acid in the body. To help reduce the side effects this causes, you might have:

  • folic acid tablets (starting 5 days before treatment and for 3 weeks afterwards)
  • vitamin B12 injections (1 injection in the week before treatment and 1 before every third treatment)

You may also have a steroid tablet to help with the side effects, starting on the day before your chemotherapy. You take the tablets twice a day, for 3 days (with breakfast and lunch). 

Tests during treatment

You have blood tests before starting treatment and during your treatment. They check your levels of blood cells and other substances in the blood. They also check how well your liver and kidneys are working.

Side effects

Important information

Other medicines, foods and drink

Cancer drugs can interact with some other medicines and herbal products. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about any medicines you are taking. This includes vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter remedies.

Pregnancy and contraception

This treatment might harm a baby developing in the womb. It is important not to become pregnant or father a child while you are having treatment and for a few months afterwards. Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment.

Fertility

You may not be able to become pregnant or father a child after treatment with these drugs. Talk to your doctor before starting treatment if you think you may want to have a baby in the future. Men may be able to store sperm before starting treatment. Women may be able to store eggs or ovarian tissue but this is rare.

Breastfeeding

Don’t breastfeed during this treatment because the drugs may come through in your breast milk.

Treatment for other conditions

Always tell other doctors, nurses or dentists that you’re having this treatment if you need treatment for anything else, including teeth problems.

Immunisations

Don’t have immunisations with live vaccines while you’re having treatment and for at least 6 months afterwards.

In the UK, live vaccines include rubella, mumps, measles, BCG, yellow fever and Zostavax (shingles vaccine).

You can:

  • have other vaccines, but they might not give you as much protection as usual
  • have the flu vaccine
  • be in contact with other people who've had live vaccines as injections

Avoid contact with people who’ve had live vaccines taken by mouth (oral vaccines). This includes the rotavirus vaccine given to babies. The virus is in the baby’s urine for up to 2 weeks and can make you ill. So, you mustn't change their nappies for 2 weeks after their vaccination.

You also need to avoid anyone who has had oral polio or typhoid vaccination recently.

More information about this treatment

For further information about this treatment go to the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) website.

You can report any side effect you have to the Medicines Health and Regulatory Authority (MHRA) as part of their Yellow Card Scheme.

Information and help

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