Can Methotrexate cause Pancreatitis?

I have RA but also a blood cancer, Leukaemia, called T Cell Lymphoma. I was put on Methotrexate, not for the RA, but because the cancer is killing my white blood cells, and oral chemotherapy (MTX) is a recognised treatment.

I was taken ill a few days ago with severe upper abdo pain, I was sure I was having a heart attack!! On admission to hospital I was told the tests left no doubt that I had Pancreatitis. I was amazed, I rarely drink (which is one of the causes), I had my gall bladder removed 23 years ago (this can be another cause) and I hadnt been stung by a scorpion. My haematologist said it wasnt the MTX but I have seen some articles on line suggesting a connection. She has however taken me off the drug for now. I have also read a bit about autoimmune Pancreatitis.

I wonder if anyone else has had panreatitis that is taking MTX also. If anyone has any further information or advice I would appreciate it.

Also, for those of you who already know me, I became a grandma for the first time in August last year. A beautiful baby girl called Robyn Marie. She is everything I could have wished for and more. My heart is full. Thankyou for reading. xxx

15 Replies

  • Just hearing or reading that word give me shivers. My h had pancreatitis 24 years ago & I nearly lost him, actually nearly to the day, I remember as we were on holiday & my friend was due to have her first baby I rang her to let her know that he was in ICU (3 weeks nearly 4 in all & a very scary time, flown back to recover in hospital in the UK) & see if she'd had her & she had, 24 years ago today! I became her Godmother! Anyway, with having the connection (I'm on MTX) I've read with interest before that MTX can be a cause but the figures are always low, less than 2% has been the percentage which crops up but then also do many other common meds used even more frequently than MTX. I suppose it's like all things med wise they each have the potential to do harm as well as good & the old chestnut, we all react to drugs differently. If we have a weak spot that'll be the one attacked. Not very scientific but seems to be the case.

    I trust you're past the worst. You must be otherwise you wouldn't be here asking about it. Congratulations on baby Robyn. I remember you saying you were going to be a grandma for the first-time, when you told us about your diagnosis.

    I hope all is going well with your treatment & you're able to enjoy being a grandma. :)

  • Hi nomoreheels. Thankyou for your reply and sorry for bringing back awful memories for you. I read with interest your post. We are all taking some dodgy drug or other but i suppose you have to weigh up what you would be without them. I hate taking MTX really, I call it my poison, because that is what it is really. It is funny that my haematologist says no way is it the cause of the pancreatitis, but yet she has stopped it! I am really scared of it happening again.

    Anyway, thanks again and happy birthday to your god daughter.

    Love xxx

  • I don't know enough about Pancreatitis or Leukemia or the rare conditions that MTX can cause to contribute much here but I did want to congratulate you on being a grandmother - Robyn is a lovely name. I hope everything improves for you and that you get through and out of the other side of the Leukemia and the Pancreatitis. Twitchy x

  • Thankyou Twitchytoes, how nice of you to reply.

  • Oh, it's not a problem anneileen please don't think that. That said, he does have a rather large gallstone under investigation & at times the pain presents almost like his initial pancreatic symptoms. He's down for it to be op'ed on but not until after he's recovered from another pretty major op he's undergoing soon it's often a concern & reminder! If he wasn't such a love I'd trade him in for a better model!

    It can often be a Catch 22 situation with meds can't it? Oddly though I think the opposite about MTX & call it my antidote because without it my RD is savage! Do you think maybe you've been taken off it to let things settle & determine what triggered the pancreatitis? I would think they'd prefer to use it if it was shown to be effective for your T cell lymphoma. Whatever, I really hope as you do that it doesn't flare & happen again, it's hellish painful. My h took a long while to recover & further intervention to get back to something like normality but, whilst like yours it was acute, his was a severe case, the pseudocysts needed aspiration monthly & left him diabetic. Hopefully yours will settle & cause you no further problems, it's often the case & let's face it you've quite enough to be dealing with for the mo haven't you?!

    Take care & you give your Robyn the biggest hug. x

  • Awww bless you, thankyou for your kind words. xx

  • Hi anneileen,

    Sorry to hear about the problems you are having. I have put some links below for you to the section on the NHS website about pancreatitis:

    One of the listed causes of chronic pancreatitis is problems with the immune system. I hope you find this information helpful.


    Beverley (NRAS Helpline)

  • Beverley, many thanks for the information and taking time out to help me. Most appreciated. xx

  • Hi

    I am methrexate and am now having tests for pancreatic cancer so have now stopped mthx , so worried as usually so fit and healthy apart from my arfhritis

  • Hi blackie50, sorry I haven't replied to your message from way back, I haven't been on here for quite a while. I just wanted to say I truly hope it turned out that you didn't have pancreatic cancer, that would be just too awful. I am having tests now because they have found nodules in my lungs and not sure if malignant or not, so I know what you must have been going through. The waiting is the worst. Let me know how you are. xx

  • I too have a cat just like yours. How did the test turn out?

  • Since my first post I have discovered that Co Codamol tablets, which combine Codeine and Paracetamol together, can cause pancreatitis. The combination is not good for some people, I must be one of them. So take care if you have to take these tablets. xx

  • Thanks for the info anneileen. I do take co-co's on an as needed basis but have been on them yonks so I think I must be fortunate & not be affected.

    I was really replying to see how you're getting on? I do hope you haven't had a recurrence of pancreatitis? x

  • Hi nomoreheels, fortunately I have not had any other attacks of pancreatitis since the first one. Thank you for asking and showing concern. I hope you are doing ok. I have recently been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which the doctors believe has developed due to my rheumatoid arthritis. The Leukaemia causes me problems all the time but I try to stay positive. It is nice to hear from you and always lovely when someone shows interest and concern. Thank you. xxx

  • Oh that's good news. I'm sorry you've gathered another condition though. Fibromyalgia does seem to be a popular diagnosis of late for some reason. I hope the meds are helping? It was the leukaemia I was concerned about. I understand how difficult up must be but hope you're coping in your own way. I do hope you stay as up as you come over as being.

    I'm not doing too badly thanks for asking, though of late added peripheral neuropathy & carpal tunnel again to the list. Nothing compared with what you're dealing with though so do take care. x

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