Find out what temozolomide is, how you have it and other important information about taking temozolomide.
Temozolomide is a chemotherapy drug and is also known by its brand name, Temodal.
It is a treatment for newly diagnosed glioblastoma multiforme. You have it with radiotherapy and then once you have finished the radiotherapy treatment you continue taking it on its own.
It is also a treatment on its own for glioblastoma multiforme or anaplastic astrocytoma that has come back or where previous treatment didn't work.
Temozolomide is sometimes a treatment for bone sarcoma (cancer) that has come back. You usually have it with another drug called irinotecan.
How it works
Temozolomide is an alkylating agent and works by stopping cancer cells from making DNA. DNA stands for DeoxyriboNucleic Acid. It is the genetic material of a cell.
If the cancer cells can't make DNA, they can't split into 2 new cells, so the cancer can't grow.
How you have it
Temozolomide is a capsule. You should swallow them whole with a glass of water. You should take them on an empty stomach, 1 hour before or after meals.
Store the capsules in a safe place away from children.
Taking your capsules
You should take the right dose, not more or less.
Never stop taking a cancer drug without talking to your specialist first.
Contact your doctor, pharmacist or nurse if you accidently take more temozolomide than you were told to.
And if you forget to take a dose, take the missed dose as soon as possible during the same day. Check with your doctor if more than a day has gone by. Don't take a double dose to make up for the forgotten dose, unless your doctor tells you to do that.
When you have it
You might have radiotherapy for 6 to 7 weeks and have temozolomide alongside radiotherapy. Take the temozolomide capsules each day during this time. It is best to take them at the same time each day.
After radiotherapy or if you have a brain tumour that has come back
You might have temozolomide as a course of cycles of treatment. You take the temozolomide capsules for 5 days every 4 weeks. You might repeat this treatment up to 6 times.
You have blood tests before 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.
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 drug may harm a baby developing in the womb. It is important not to become pregnant or father a child while you are having treatment with this drug and for at least 6 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 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.
Don’t breastfeed during this treatment because the drug may come through into your breast milk.
Always tell other doctors, nurses, pharmacists 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 up to 12 months afterwards. The length of time depends on the treatment you are having. Ask your doctor or pharmacist how long you should avoid live vaccinations.
In the UK, live vaccines include rubella, mumps, measles, BCG, yellow fever and the shingles vaccine (Zostavax).
- have other vaccines, but they might not give you as much protection as usual
- have the flu vaccine (as an injection)
- be in contact with other people who have had live vaccines as injections
Avoid close contact with people who have recently had live vaccines taken by mouth (oral vaccines) such as oral polio or the typhoid vaccine.
This also includes the rotavirus vaccine given to babies. The virus is in the baby’s poo for up to 2 weeks and could 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 should also avoid close contact with children who have had the flu vaccine nasal spray if your immune system is severely weakened.
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.