Methotrexate Side Effects


Methotrexate is a very old chemotherapy drug that was first approved by the US Food & Drug Administration back in 1953. It is used against several subtypes of cancer, both solid tumor cancers and lymphoma/leukemias. It is used alone and in combination chemotherapy regimens.

Since it is so old, methotrexate has a very well understood toxicity profile, allowing for the side effects to have been well documented.

Serious Side Effects of Methotrexate

The following side effects of methotrexate are considered serious enough that, should they be experienced, it is important to notify one's doctor or health care professional as soon as possible.

  • Any indication of an allergic reaction: Hives, problems breathing; the swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat
  • Vomiting or diarrhea, or the development of white patches or sores inside the mouth or on the lips
  • Blood in one's urine or stools
  • Urinating less frequently than usual, or not urinating at all
  • Signs of an infection, such as fever, chills, body aches and other flu-like symptoms
  • A sore throat and headache coupled with severe blistering, peeling and red skin rash
  • Easy bruising or bleeding, weakness, pale skin
  • Nausea, stomach pains, low fevers, appetite loss dark-colored urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)

Less Serious Side Effects of Methotrexate

The following presents an incomplete list of side effects associated with methotrexate considered to be less serious than those listed above. Simply because they are less serious does not mean they should not be reported to one's doctor. Instead, one should report all side effects to their doctor when they occur.

  • Bleeding gums
  • Dizziness or fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Blurred vision

Keep in mind that not all patients will experience side effects when receiving methotrexate. Some patients won't experience any, while others may experience many. Most probably fall somewhere in between the two extremes.

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