Methotrexate Side Effects

Methotrexate interferes with the growth of certain cells of the body, especially cells that reproduce quickly, such as cancer cells, bone marrow cells, and skin cells.

Methotrexate is used to treat certain types of cancer of the breast, skin, head and neck, or lung. It is also used to treat severe psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Methotrexate is usually given after other medications have been tried without successful treatment of symptoms.

Do not use this medication if you are allergic to methotrexate. Do not use methotrexate to treat psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis if you have:

liver disease;

alcoholism or cirrhosis of the liver;

a blood cell disorder such as anemia (lack of red blood cells) or leukopenia (lack of white blood cells);

a bone marrow disorder; or

if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Methotrexate is sometimes used to treat cancer even when patients do have one of the conditions listed above. Your doctor will decide if this treatment is right for you.

If you have any of these other conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely take methotrexate:

  • kidney disease;
  • liver disease;
  • lung disease or pneumonia;
  • stomach ulcers;
  • any type of infection; or
  • if you are receiving radiation treatments.

FDA pregnancy category X. Methotrexate can cause birth defects in an unborn baby. Do not use methotrexate to treat psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis if you are pregnant. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant during treatment.

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to methotrexate: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Stop using methotrexate and call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • dry cough, shortness of breath;
  • diarrhea, vomiting, white patches or sores inside your mouth or on your lips;
  • blood in your urine or stools;
  • urinating less than usual or not at all;
  • fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms;
  • sore throat and headache with a severe blistering, peeling, and red skin rash;
  • pale skin, easy bruising or bleeding, weakness; or
  • nausea, stomach pain, low fever, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Less serious methotrexate side effects may include:

  • nausea, vomiting, upset stomach;
  • dizziness, tired feeling;
  • headache;
  • bleeding of your gums; or
  • blurred vision.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

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