In this drug factsheet:
How does this medication work? What will it do for me?
Methotrexate is used to treat certain types of cancer such as leukemia, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, breast cancer, head and neck cancer, stomach cancer, bladder cancer, bone cancer, and choriocarcinoma (a type of uterine cancer). It is also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and psoriasis (a chronic skin disorder that produces patchy scales) when other treatments have not provided a satisfactory result.
When used to treat cancer, methotrexate works by blocking an enzyme process in cancer cells so they cannot grow. Used for this purpose, methotrexate is known as an anti-metabolite.
For rheumatoid arthritis, it works by reducing inflammation and by suppressing the immune system. For psoriasis, methotrexate works by attacking the rapidly-dividing cells that are involved in causing psoriasis. Under these circumstances, methotrexate is known as a disease modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD).
This medication may be available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms or approved for all of the conditions discussed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here.
Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.
Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.
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How should I use this medication?
Cancer: The dose of methotrexate varies depending on the type of cancer being treated and body weight or size. Your doctor may recommend either the tablet or injectable form of this medication.
If your doctor recommends the injectable form of methotrexate, the appropriate dose is usually injected one or more times weekly, either in cycles (i.e., some weeks no injections are given) or on a regular basis, depending on the type of cancer being treated. The tablet form of the medication can be given twice a week or daily, depending on the type of cancer being treated.
Rheumatoid arthritis: The usual adult dose of methotrexate is 7.5 mg taken as one dose once weekly by mouth or 2.5 mg taken every 12 hours for 3 doses once weekly. Doses are sometimes adjusted gradually according to response but are usually no more than 20 mg weekly. The benefits of treatment usually appear about 3 to 6 weeks after starting the medication.
Psoriasis: The usual adult starting dose of methotrexate is 10 mg to 25 mg per week in one dose (tablet or injection) or 2.5 mg (tablet) taken every 12 hours for 3 doses once weekly. Doses can be adjusted gradually but are usually no more than 30 mg weekly.
Children: Methotrexate has been used to treat cancer in children. Methotrexate has also been used under close supervision of a doctor to treat other conditions in children.
Methotrexate tablets may be taken with or without food.
Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as age, body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor because there may be specific reasons why it is different.
It is important to take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible and contact your doctor for advice on when to take the next dose. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
If you miss an appointment to receive the injection form of this medication, contact your doctor as soon as possible to reschedule your appointment.
Store this medication at room temperature and keep it out of the reach of children. The injectable form of this medication should be protected from light.
Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.
What form(s) does this medication come in?
Each round, yellow, scored tablet, engraved "2.5" and "M1" contains 2.5 mg methotrexate. Nonmedicinal ingredients: corn starch, lactose, and magnesium stearate. Dye-free.
Who should NOT take this medication?
Do not use this medication if you:
- are allergic to methotrexate or any ingredients of this medication
- are breast-feeding
Additionally, do not use this medication for rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis if you:
- have a history of alcohol abuse or alcoholic liver disease
- have chronic (long term) liver disease
- have an immunodeficiency syndrome (e.g., HIV)
- have anemia or other blood diseases
- or your partner are pregnant or are planning on becoming pregnant