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What Is Folinic Acid?

Allison Boelcke
Allison Boelcke

Folinic acid, also commonly referred to as leucovorin, is a medication that is generally prescribed to patients who are also currently taking other medications to treat cancer. Medications that treat cancer typically work by destroying abnormal cancer cells; however, in the process they may also damage healthy cells and result in potentially dangerous side effects, such as difficulty fighting off infections, anemia, increased risk of bruising or bleeding, and damage to the kidneys. Folinic acid is typically prescribed as part of a cancer treatment program because the drug has been found to be effective in some patients at preventing harmful cancer medication from damaging healthy cells, while still allowing the abnormal cancer cells to be destroyed.

The exact dosage instructions for folinic acid may vary depending on the severity of the patient’s cancer treatment side effects. The drug is generally available in a tablet form to be taken orally or a solution to be injected as often as four times per day. Doctors usually advise patients to take the medication at the same time each day. If a person forgets to take a dose, it is usually recommended for him or her to take the missing dose as soon as he or she remembers; however, if it is close, such as within four hours or so, to the time to take the next dosage, it may be advised for the patient to skip the missed dose in order to prevent an overdose.


Although folinic acid is generally considered safe and effective at treating cancer treatment side effects, the medication may potentially cause some side effects of its own. These side effects may include hives, rash, difficulty breathing, diarrhea, or convulsions. It is usually recommended to seek immediate medical attention if any of these side effects occur since they can be potentially life-threatening; however, side effects from the medication tend to be rare.

Certain people are typically not advised to take folinic acid due to the preexisting conditions that may render the medication ineffective. People who are also suffering from kidney disease along with cancer, may have a higher amount of cancer medications in their systems because their kidneys may not able to remove it from the body in a timely manner; therefore, medications to fight against the side effects of cancer treatment may not be able to work as effectively against the higher amounts remaining in the body. If a person experiences vomiting on a daily basis after during cancer treatment, not enough folinic acid may be able to be absorbed into the body to work properly. If regular vomiting occurs, the patient’s doctor may recommend a different course of treatment for the side effects of cancer medications.

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