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Lenalidomide (Generic Name)

UPMC Content 2

About this drug

Lenalidomide is used to treat cancer. It is given by mouth.

Possible side effects (more common)

  • Bone marrow depression: This medicine can cause low numbers of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. This is called bone marrow depression.  This can happen 1—2 weeks after you start the medicine.  This can raise your risk for infection, make you tired and weak (fatigue), and raise your risk of bleeding.
  • Changes in bowel movements; some people get loose bowel movements (diarrhea), and others have trouble having a bowel movement (constipation)
  • Nausea and throwing up
  • Rash or itching
  • Swelling (fluid retention) in the legs, ankles, or feet
  • Feeling tired or weak (fatigue)
  • Headache
  • Pain in your joints or muscles
  • Blurred vision
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Fever

Possible side effects (less common)

  • Blood clots:  A blood clot in your leg may cause your leg to swell, appear red and warm, and/or cause pain. A blood clot in your lungs may cause trouble breathing, pain when breathing, and/or chest pain.
  • Changes in the taste of food and drinks.
  • Loss of appetite (less hungry)

Treating side effects

  • Talk to your doctor or nurse about medicines to help control joint or muscle pain, headache, nausea, throwing up, or loose bowel movements.
  • If you get a rash do not put anything on it unless your doctor or nurse says you may. Keep the area around the rash clean and dry.
  • If you cannot move your bowels (constipated), talk your doctor or nurse about what you can do.  They may have medicines or diet ideas that may help you. Do not use enemas, laxatives, or suppositories without checking with your doctor or nurse.

Important information

  • Take this drug with water and swallow the capsule whole. Do not break, chew, or open the capsule.
  • Store this medicine in its original bottle.  Do not let it get too hot or too cold. 
  • Do not donate blood while you are taking this drug.  Do not donate blood until at least 4 weeks after you stop taking this drug.
  • You will need to sign up for a special program called Revlamid® REMS when you start taking this drug.  The doctor’s staff will help you get started. 
  • Missed dose: If you miss a dose of lenalidomide, and it has been less than 12 hours since your normal timedose was due, take the dose as soon as you remember.  If it has been more than 12 hours since your dose was due, skip the missed dose.  Do not take 2 doses at the same time. Do not take extra doses.

Food and drug interactions

  • There are no known interactions of lenalidomide with food. This drug may interact with other medicines. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medicines and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs and others) that you are taking at this time. The safety and use of dietary supplements and alternative diets are often not known. Using these might affect your cancer or interfere with your treatment. Until more is known, you should not use dietary supplements or alternative diets without your cancer doctor's help.

When to call the doctor

Call your doctor or nurse right away if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Fever over 100.4◦ F (38.0◦ C) or chills
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Chest pain or  trouble breathing
  • Pain, redness, or swelling of your arms or legs
  • Nausea that stops you from eating or drinking
  • Throwing up more than 3 times in one day
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea) more than 5 or 6 times in one day, or diarrhea with weakness
  • Severe headache or you feel dizzy

Call your doctor or nurse as soon as possible if you have any of these symptoms:

  • A rash that bothers you
  • Swelling (fluid retention) in the legs, feet, or ankles
  • No bowel movement for 3 days
  • Joint or muscle pain, nausea, throwing up, or loose bowel movements that are not relieved by prescribed medicines.
  • Feel really tired and weak or if you are not able to do things you normally do.

Infertility concerns

  • Sexual problems and reproduction concerns may happen. In both men and women, this drug may affect your ability to have children. This cannot be determined before your treatment. Talk with your doctor or nurse if you plan to have children.  Ask for information on sperm or egg banking.
  • In men, this drug may interfere with your ability to make sperm, but it should not change your ability to have sexual relations.
  • In women, menstrual bleeding may become irregular or stop while you are getting this drug. Do not assume that you cannot become pregnant if you do not have a menstrual period.
  • Women may go through signs of menopause (change of life) like vaginal dryness or itching. Vaginal lubricants can be used to lessen vaginal dryness, itching, and pain during sexual relations.
  • Genetic counseling is available for you to talk about the effects of this drug therapy on future pregnancies. Also, a genetic counselor can look at the possible risk of problems in the unborn baby due to this medicine if an exposure happens during pregnancy.

Reproduction concerns

  • Pregnancy warnings:
    • This drug may cause very harmful effects on an unborn child. Lenalidomide should never be used by women who are pregnant or who could become pregnant while taking the drug. Even 1 dose taken by a pregnant woman can cause these very harmful effects, including death of the unborn child. Your healthcare team will talk to you and give you written information about this risk.
    • Two negative pregnancy tests are required to be able to take this drug if you are at an age that you can get pregnant.
    • You will need to have routine pregnancy tests while you are taking this drug.
    • To prevent pregnancy, two methods of reliable birth control must be used by you and your partner for 4 weeks before you take this drug, while you are taking this drug, and for 4 weeks after your last dose of this drug.
    • Women who are taking this drug or a woman whose partner is taking this drug need to call their doctor right away if they think they are pregnant or if they get pregnant.
  • Breast feeding warning: It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk.  For this reason, women should talk to their doctor about the risks and benefits of breast feeding during treatment with this drug because this drug may enter the breast milk and badly harm a breast feeding baby.

Revised August 2014