Lenalidomide is a medication for treating myelodysplastic syndromes and multiple myeloma, both of which are groups of cancers affecting blood cells. This drug is usually taken with dexamethasone and is often used after one other treatment. The usage of Lenalidomide for multiple myeloma led to a 54 % reduction in disease progression and death.
Lenalidomide was put on WHO’s List of Essential Medicines in 2005 after being approved for medicinal use in the United States. It is commonly known by the trade name Revlimid. Lenalidomide is being used for the last decade to successfully treat cancers and inflammatory disorders.
How Lenalidomide works
This anti-cancer medication works by strengthening the immune system to attack the cancer cells indirectly. The growth of new blood vessels in the tumour is prevented due to the intake of Lenalidomide. It contributes to restricting the production of cytokine, which is a chemical messenger responsible for the growth of cancer cells.
The usage of Lenalidomide
Lenalidomide is used in capsule form and consumed orally to treat a variety of cancers. This drug is also used for the treatment of mantle cell lymphoma and anaemia caused by myelodysplastic syndrome- a bone marrow disorder. The use of Lenalidomide may result in a lower need for blood transfusion.
Lenalidomide usage is not recommended for treating a type of cancer known as chronic lymphocytic leukaemia due to serious heart-related side effects. Alternatively, it is used to treat lepra reaction and other related diseases.
The dosage of Lenalidomide is based on the individual medical conditions of patients and their response to the treatment. This drug is absorbed through the skin and may affect an unborn baby, hence women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should avoid consumption of Lenalidomide.
The side effects of Lenalidomide
The consumption of Lenalidomide may have side effects however, the risk of them may be reduced by careful monitoring. The most common side effects include nausea, diarrhoea, dizziness, stomach pain, dry skin and mouth, or troubled sleep.
In some cases, extreme Lenalidomide side effects may appear as depression, symptoms of heart failure, numbness of arms and legs, irregular heartbeat and sudden weight gain. These side effects should be immediately discussed with a doctor to avoid them getting worse.
To lower the side effects of this drug, doctors recommend drinking plenty of fluids.