Find out what pemetrexed and cisplatin is, how you have it and other important information about having pemetrexed and cisplatin.
Pemetrexed and cisplatin is a combination of two chemotherapy drugs. Pemetrexed is also called Alimta and cisplatin is sometimes just called plat or platinum.
It is treatment for:
- non small cell lung cancer
- mesothelioma (cancer of the outer covering of the lungs)
How pemetrexed and cisplatin works
These chemotherapy drugs destroy quickly dividing cells such as cancer cells.
How you have pemetrexed and cisplatin
You have these 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 pemetrexed and cisplatin
Every 3 weeks you have both drugs by drip over about 8 hours. You might have 4 to 6 treatments, taking 3 to 6 months in total.
To reduce side effects while having pemetrexed and cisplatin you need to:
- take folic acid tablets – starting 5 days before you begin treatment, continuing throughout treatment, and for 3 weeks after treatment ends
- have vitamin B12 injections – 1 injection in the week before you start treatment and then 1 before every 3rd treatment cycle (every 9 weeks)
- take steroid tablets – starting the day before you begin treatment, twice a day for 3 days with breakfast and lunch
Taking your tablets or capsules
Whether you have a full or empty stomach can affect how much of a drug gets into your bloodstream.
You should take the right dose, not more or less.
Never stop taking a cancer drug without talking to your specialist first.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
- 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.