Lenalidomide

Lenalidomide is in the class of drugs called an immunomodulating agent. This affects the way the immune system works. This has anti-angiogenic and anti-neoplastic properties. Lenalidomide is a prescription used for the treatment of multiple myeloma in adults.

Multiple myelomas are an uncommon type of cancer that alters blood’s plasma cells and affects the bone marrow. Plasma cells are a type of white blood cell that is responsible for recognizing foreign infections. These help you fight infections by making antibodies that recognize and attack germs. Plasma cells live in your bone marrow which is the soft tissue that fills hollow bones. Bone marrow is responsible for producing other healthy blood cells. Multiple myelomas lead to a build-up of cancer cells in your bone marrow. The cancer cells eventually overtake healthy blood cells and your body becomes unable to produce disease-fighting antibodies. Instead, it creates harmful proteins that damage your kidneys and cause other signs and symptoms. Signs and symptoms of this condition are not always easy to detect. You may not experience any of the symptoms during the early stages. As cancer progresses, symptoms vary greatly. Some signs and symptoms of multiple myeloma may include:

  • Nausea
  • Bone pain especially in your spine or chest
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Mental fogginess or confusion
  • Weight loss
  • Frequent infections
  • Excessive thirst
  • Weakness or numbness in your legs

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already approved this medication. This is supplied as a capsule for oral use. Lenalidomide is available in the dosage strengths of 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, and 25 mg.

How does Lenalidomide work?

Lenalidomide works by stopping the cancerous plasma cells from increasing. In the immune system called natural killer cells, this drug also enhances the action of cells. These attack abnormal cells including cancerous cells naturally. In order to grow, cancerous cells need a blood supply that provides them with nutrients and oxygen. They also need this blood supply to spread. Cancerous cells stimulate blood vessels to grow into the tumor. Another of this medicine is to stop this development of new blood vessels. This is used in combination with other medications for the treatment of multiple myeloma in people who have already received at least one previous therapy. This drug can reduce the production of healthy blood cells leaving people susceptible to infection. Regular blood tests are needed to monitor levels of blood cells.

How to use Lenalidomide?

The capsule is to be taken by mouth depending on the dosage that will be prescribed to you. Swallow the capsule as a whole with a full glass of water. Do not open, chew, or crush it. Drink plenty of fluids while having this medication. The given dosage is based on your medical condition and response to the medication. Take each dose exactly as it is given by your doctor. Do not take in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than the prescription. Your doctor may give you a lower dose to start and gradually increase it.

Lenalidomide is to be taken as directed by your doctor. This is usually taken once a day. Each dose may be taken with or without a meal. Take it regularly for the best benefit of this product. Remember to take it at the same time and in the same way each day. Let your doctor know if your condition does not improve or if it gets worse. Do not suddenly stop this treatment without the consent of your doctor. For the treatment of certain conditions, you may be instructed to take this drug in cycles. It may be once a day for 21 days then stopping the medications for 7 days. If you missed a dose, take it as soon as you remember it. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to make up for the missed dose.

What are the side effects of Lenalidomide?

Common side effects:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Dry or itchy skin
  • Constipation
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Tiredness
  • Headache

Let your doctor know if you have these serious side effects such as:

  • Thyroid problems
  • Worsening of your tumor
  • Risk of new cancers
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Fetal risk
  • Serious skin reactions
  • Liver problems (loss of appetite, upper stomach pain, dark urine, or clay-colored stools)
  • Low blood cell counts (chills, swollen gums, mouth or skin sores)
  • Signs of a stroke or blood clot (severe headache, sudden numbness or weakness, shortness of breath, or swelling or redness in your arm/leg)

Call for medical emergency assistance right away if you have signs of an allergic reaction such as:

  • Hives
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling in your lips, face, throat, or tongue

Warnings and Precautions

  • Before using Lenalidomide, let your doctor know if you ever had an allergic reaction to it. Tell also if you have any allergies. This product may have an inactive ingredient that causes an allergic reaction.
  • Do not use this for the treatment of other diseases.
  • This drug may make you dizzy. Do not use any machinery or do any activity that needs your full alertness.
  • If you have any medical history especially of liver disease, kidney disease, thyroid disease, chickenpox, and shingles, or organ transplant tell it to your doctor right away.  
  • While having Lenalidomide, limit alcoholic beverages.
  • This drug can reduce the number of blood cells in your blood. A low white blood cell count can increase your susceptibility to infections and increase the risk of bleeding.
  • This may rarely cause liver problems. For this reason, your liver function should be monitored at the same time as your blood cells.
  • Lenalidomide should be used with caution in elderly people, those with any disease of the nerves, with extensive cancer before the treatment is started, and those with angina or a history of a heart attack.
  • This drug is not recommended for use in pregnant or breastfeeding women.
  • Keep this at room temperature, far from heat, moisture, and reach of children.