How Effective Is Methotrexate for Cancer?

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  • Written By: C.B. Fox
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 03 September 2019
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Using methotrexate for cancer is considered to be a relatively effective treatment. It is commonly used to treat a variety of different cancers, including breast cancer, lymphoma, and osteosarcoma. There is no way to predict how a patient's individual cancer will respond to treatment until it is tried, but this medication is a common first choice for chemotherapy. Methotrexate is often used alongside other cancer treatments, including surgery, radiation, and other chemotherapy drugs.

Doctors will often prescribe methotrexate for cancer of the head, neck, breasts, lungs, bones, and for certain types of leukemia and lymphoma. When used as a part of a treatment for these cancers, methotrexate is considered to be quite effective and many patients given this drug go into full remission. It is also possible to use methotrexate for cancer of other parts of the body and body systems, though it is less effective against these cancers.

The effectiveness of methotrexate for cancer depends a great deal on the state of the cancer when it is found. Cancer discovered in the early stages, while it only affects a small part of a single organ or system, is much easier to treat than cancer found in a more advanced stage. It is also easier to treat cancer when the growth can be completely removed surgically. Removing a tumor and then using methotrexate for cancer that responds well to this drug is an effective treatment for many patients.


Some patients will receive methotrexate for cancer treatment as the first attempt to cure the disease because doctors can determine quickly whether the tumor is responding to treatment with this drug. Patients who respond well may be given a course of this drug in chemotherapy. Those with breast cancer and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma often make a full recovery with at least a five-year remission, while other patients, such as those with lung cancer or advanced osteosarcoma, have lower chances of complete recovery.

For some forms of cancer, methotrexate may be used as a part of a treatment plan. It is difficult to determine how effective this drug is on its own because doctors will often use multiple medications and techniques in order to stop the progression of cancer. Early, aggressive treatment is most effective against these diseases, so patients are often given a variety of treatments at once. When used as a part of a larger cancer treatment, methotrexate can be highly effective.



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