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Temsirolimus (Torisel)

Read about temsirolimus, how you have it and other important information about having this drug. 

Temsirolimus is pronounced tem-sir-oh-li-mus. It is also known by its brand name Torisel. Temsirolimus is a treatment for:

  • advanced kidney cancer
  • mantle cell lymphoma

How it works

Temsirolimus is a type of targeted cancer drug treatment called an mTOR inhibitor. It blocks the effects of a protein called mTOR that is often over active in cancer cells. This protein makes the cells divide and grow.

Temsirolimus also stops the cancer from making blood vessels, which the cells need to be able to grow. This is called an anti angiogenesis treatment. So temsirolimus might help to stop the cancer growing or may slow the growth of the cancer.

How you have it

Temsirolimus is a colourless or pale yellow liquid that you have into your bloodstream (intravenously). It takes between 30 and 60 minutes.

You have an anti histamine drug before each dose. 

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

For kidney cancer you have temsirolimus once a week. You usually carry on having it for as long as it works, unless the side effects get severe. 

For mantle cell lymphoma you have the drug once a week. You start on a higher dose for the first 3 weeks and then have a lower dose for the rest of your treatment. 

You usually carry on having temsirolimus for as long as it works, unless the side effects get severe. 

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.

Grapefruit and grapefruit juice

You should not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice when you are taking this drug because it can react with the drug.


This drug contains alcohol and can be harmful to people who drink alcohol or are alcoholic. 


You may not be able to become pregnant or father a child after treatment with this drug. 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.

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.


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

Treatment for other conditions

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

Slow wound healing

This drug can slow wound healing. If you need to have an operation you may need to stop taking it for a while beforehand. Your doctor will let you know when you can start taking it again.


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 shingles vaccine (Zostavax).

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, avoid changing their nappies for 2 weeks after their vaccination if possible. Or wear disposable gloves and wash your hands well afterwards.

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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About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.