Pemetrexed is an anti-cancer drug that is normally used during chemotherapy. The drug is classified as an anti-metabolite. Anti-metabolites help to prevent cells from using folate for DNA and RNA development. Pemetrexed is able to inhibit the growth of cancerous cells by denying those cells the folate substances. Pemetrexed is used in chemotherapy treatment for malignant mesothelioma. The drug is also used in chemotherapy treatment for locally advanced lung cancer. Various factors denote the specific dosing of pemetrexed.  These factors can include the type of cancer that is being treated, how far that cancer has progressed, the patient’s height, the patient’s weight, gender, and the overall health of the patient.

Side Effects

Pemetrexed has many side effects. Since it is a drug used for chemotherapy, it can leave the patient weak. Common side effects of taking pemetrexed include nausea, constipation, vomiting, shortness of breath, a low appetite, a low red blood cell count, chest pain, and a low white blood cell count. Pemetrexed is designed to prevent folic acid from converting into its active form after entering the body. Pemetrexed is more likely to affect cancer cells as opposed to healthy cells. However, the aforementioned side effects are normally present when the medication reacts with healthy cells.  The American Cancer Society notes that this drug could interfere with the effectiveness of other medications, and recommends discussing all medications prior to starting treatment.

Treating Mesothelioma

Pemetrexed has shown encouraging results as a palliative treatment for those diagnosed with mesothelioma. When used in mesothelioma treatments the drug cisplatin, another chemotherapy agent, is typically given along with pemetrexed. This drug was first approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2004.

This disease is caused when asbestos fibers that are present in the lungs begin to act as a carcinogen, affecting nearby cells and causing cancerous growths. Asbestos fibers are a form of silicate compound, are extremely tiny, and are easily inhaled by employees in various industrial fields. Asbestos insulation can break down over time, allowing free-floating fibers to be inhaled and become embedded in a person’s lung tissue or pleural lining. Pemetrexed is not a cure for mesothelioma, but is effective in slowing the growth and division of these cells. Mesothelioma tends to exhibit long latency periods, meaning patients are usually diagnosed in the later stages. Cancer cells reproduce quite rapidly, which is the reason chemotherapy drugs such as pemetrexed are used to target them.


American Cancer Society