Methotrexate Uses and Other Important Information

Page content

Also prescribed as Trexall, this medication is classified as an antimetabolite. Methotrexate uses include treating breast cancer, lung cancer, bone cancer, uterine tumors, head and neck cancer, blood cancers, and lymph cancers. It may also be prescribed for other cancers at the patient’s doctor’s discretion, as well as disorders caused by an overactive immune system, such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. This medication works by interfering with the growth of cancer cells, resulting in their eventual desctuction, through blocking a specific enzyme required by the cell to live. This medication also suppresses the immune system. Other possible uses of this medication include:

  • Acute nonlymphocytic leukemia
  • Bladder cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Stomach cancers
  • Meninges cancer
  • Brain lymphomas
  • Rectal and colon cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Penis cancer
  • Hodgkins lymphoma
  • Soft tissue cancers including muscular, vessels carrying lymph/blood/fat, and connective tissues

How is this Medication Used?

This medication is very powerful. How well the patient responds to it and their medical condition will determine how often they take it and at what dose. Plenty of fluids must be consumed when taking this medication to help excrete it from the body and to lessen some side effects.

Side Effects

Methotrexate uses determine the dose, and the dose can sometimes affect how many side effects a patient experiences. Common side effects include stomach pain, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and drowsiness. Patients may lose their hair temporarily with this medication, but it most often grows back once this medication is stopped. The serious side effects include:

  • Mouth sores
  • Fever
  • Persistent sore throat
  • Black stools
  • Enlarged lymph nodes or glands
  • Bone pain
  • Jaundice
  • Chest pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Vision changes
  • Muscle weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Skin rash
  • Dark urine
  • Unusual skin discoloration or pain
  • Amount of urine change
  • Dry cough
  • Calf swelling or pain
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Seizures
  • Mood or mental changes


Patients with certain medical conditions typically must avoid this medication. Such condition include:

  • Liver disease
  • Severe lung disease
  • Suppressed immune system
  • Stomach or intestinal diseases
  • An active infection
  • Severe kidney disease
  • Alcohol use
  • Bone marrow disorders
  • Blood cell disorders
  • Folic acid deficiency

Avoid immunizations and vaccinations when taking this medication unless a doctor says otherwise. Avoid the sun because this medication can cause sun sensitivity.

Drug Interactions

Certain other drugs and medications will interact. These include:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Aspirin
  • Acitretin
  • Live vaccines
  • Pyrimethamine
  • Asparaginase
  • Natalizumab
  • Other cancer drugs and medications
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Leflunomide
  • Penicillins
  • Probenecid
  • Sulfa medications
  • Certain antibiotics
  • Digoxin
  • Drugs that could be toxic to the liver
  • Phenytoin
  • Procarbazine
  • Theophylline

Warnings and Precautions

Women who are pregnant should never use this medication. It has caused death in unborn babies and birth defects. Women taking this medication must not become pregnant. In rare cases, bone marrow suppression can be caused by this medication, typically when taken in high dosages. Lung problems, skin reactions, mouth sores, lung infections, diarrhea, and abnormal growths have infrequently occurred when taking this medication. In rare cases, there is a risk of bone and tissue damage when this medication is taken along with radiation therapy.


RxList. (2010). Trexall. Retrieved on September 8, 2010 from RxList: (2010). Methotrexate. Retrieved on September 8, 2010 from