What Is Pralatrexate?

Jillian O Keeffe

Pralatrexate is an anti-cancer drug for a rare lymphoma called peripheral T-cell lymphoma (PTCL). It is not the first choice of drug to treat the disease, but it can be prescribed after other drugs have been ineffective in controlling the cancer. The drug slows the growth of cancer cells but also affects normal cells.

Doctor taking notes
Doctor taking notes

PCTL is a tumor of some of the white blood cells that help protect the body against disease. In this form of cancer, the lymphatic system, which can transport white blood cells and infectious organisms around the body, shows the symptoms of enlarged lymph nodes. PCTL is a rare form of cancer.

Drugs other than pralatrexate are prescribed first in an attempt to cure or control the cancer. If these do not work properly, or if the cancer goes away and then recurs, then pralatrexate might be suggested. The drug works on the cancer cells to inhibit cellular growth, and the tumor cells die off in time. Normal, healthy cells might also be affected by the action of the drug and have an effect on health.

A typical regimen of pralatrexate treatment involves injections given one day a week by a doctor. Each injection takes as long as five minutes to deliver the drug effectively. The patient then has to return for an injection once a week for five more weeks to complete a full cycle. After a week of injections is skipped, then the six-week cycle can be repeated. The potential for adverse effects on healthy cells might require premature cessation of treatment.

Many possible side effects of pralatrexate can occur. The gastrointestinal system can be involved. Nausea, diarrhea and a lack of appetite are just some examples of the mild effects. More serious effects include blood in the feces or urine, unusual thirst or pale spots in the mouth. Abnormal tiredness and aches are common occurrences associated with the drug, and more severe problems — such as problems breathing, excessive bleeding and abnormal heart rhythms — require prompt medical attention.

While under treatment with pralatrexate, a patient typically also has to take vitamin supplements. These supplements, in the form of folic acid tablets and vitamin B12 injections, help reduce the risk of particular side effects occurring. Pralatrexate might be unsuitable to take in conjunction with other medications, including anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen and painkillers such as aspirin. Pregnant women and people who have a history of liver or kidney problems should inform the doctor before using pralatrexate.

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