Lenalidomide (brand name Revlimid ®) is an oral medication approved by the FDA to treat hematologic disorders such as myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), and multiple myeloma (MM). Similar to thalidomide, of which it is a derivative, lenalidomide is an immunomodulatory drug meaning that it affects immune response within the body. It may work by inhibiting the growth of new blood vessels in tumors, enhancing the immune system, or decreasing the production of growth factor and cytokines.
Although not FDA approved for this indication, lenalidomide is also sometimes used to treat patients with myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) including MPN/MDS, MPN-not otherwise specified (MPN-NOS), and myelofibrosis (MF). Clinical trials have shown that some patients respond favorably to varying doses of lenalidomide, often in combination with steroid medications such as prednisone.
Common side effects:
- Decreased blood counts
- Itching or rash
Potentially Serious Side Effects:
- Blood Count Suppression: Lenalidomide frequently suppresses blood cell counts. If the blood counts become too low there is risk of infection or bleeding. This is usually reversible if the medication dose is reduced or stopped to allow your infection fighting cells and platelets to recover.
- Birth Defects: Lenalidomide and the highly similar medication, thalidomide, are known to cause birth defects. Lenalidomide and thalidomide should NEVER be taken by pregnant women or by patients planning to become pregnant.