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What is Lenalidomide?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Lenalidomide is a medication used to treat a family of blood disorders known as myelodysplastic syndromes, as well as to treat of bone marrow cancers like multiple myeloma. The medication typically is used in combination therapy with another drug in cycles, allowing the patient to take the medication for several weeks and then take time off to recover before taking it again. This drug is structurally related to thalidomide, a medication known to cause birth defects, and it is considered dangerous for use in pregnant women. In some nations, women who want to take lenalidomide may need to enroll in a special program to make sure they are aware of the risks and are taking steps to prevent pregnancy.

This medication is available in the form of tablets taken orally. Patients on lenalidomide commonly experience side effects like nausea, dizziness, diarrhea, tingling and numbness, headaches, and blurred vision. If these side effects become severe or persistent, a doctor should evaluate the patient. A racing heart beat, extreme fatigue, and pale skin are signs of more serious complications of lenalidomide, and they should be addressed. This drug has also been known to cause blood clots and liver damage.

In nations where availability of this drug is restricted due to concerns about birth defects, fertile women are required to submit negative pregnancy test results and to commit to using two forms of birth control at all times while on the medication. Once the medication is finished, a waiting period is advised before trying to get pregnant. The effects of lenalidomide on semen are not known, and men may be advised to wait after drug therapy before trying for a pregnancy; eggs and sperm can also be banked for future use before starting lenalidomide therapy.

If a woman becomes pregnant while taking this medication, she should stop immediately and discuss the situation with a doctor. A counselor can provide advice on proceeding with the pregnancy or terminating, after an evaluation of fetal and maternal health. There may be cases when a patient could be at serious risk if the drug therapy is stopped, and pregnancy termination so the treatment can continue may be recommended.

Like other medications used in chemotherapy, lenalidomide is very aggressive, and it is available by prescription only to make sure it is used properly. It should be stored in a cool, dry place out of reach of children and pets, and adults in the household should be advised about the dangers of this medication. It may be advisable to keep it away from other medications so it is not consumed by mistake.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
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