Melphalan (By mouth)

Introduction

Melphalan (MEL-fa-lan)

Treats symptoms of plasma cell cancer (multiple myeloma) and ovarian cancer.

Brand Name(s)

Alkeran

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used

You should not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to melphalan or if you have used this medicine before and it did not help you. Do not use this medicine if you are pregnant.

How to Use This Medicine

Tablet

  • Medicines used to treat cancer are very strong and can have many side effects. Before receiving this medicine, make sure you understand all the risks and benefits. It is important for you to work closely with your doctor during your treatment.
  • Your doctor will tell you how much of this medicine to use and how often. Do not use more medicine or use it more often than your doctor tells you to.
  • The medicine often causes changes in your blood. Your doctor may tell you to stop taking this medicine occasionally so he or she can take blood samples.
  • This medicine sometimes works slowly, and it may keep working for several months. Follow your personal medicine schedule carefully.

If a dose is missed:

  • If you miss a dose or forget to use your medicine, use it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then to use the medicine and skip the missed dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine

  • Store the medicine in the refrigerator, away from direct light. Do not freeze.
  • Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
  • Keep all medicine away from children and never share your medicine with anyone.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Tell your doctor if you have ever been treated with radiation or other cancer medicines.

Warnings While Using This Medicine

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are breastfeeding, or if you have kidney disease.
  • Using this medicine while you are pregnant can harm your unborn baby. Use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant. If you think you have become pregnant while using the medicine, tell your doctor right away.
  • If you plan to have children, talk with your doctor before using this medicine. Some men and women using this medicine have become infertile (unable to have children).
  • This medicine lowers the number of some types of blood cells in your body. Because of this, you may bleed or get infections more easily. To help with these problems, avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Wash your hands often. Stay away from rough sports or other situations where you could be bruised, cut, or injured. Brush and floss your teeth gently. Be careful when using sharp objects, including razors and fingernail clippers.
  • Your doctor will need to check your blood at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Be sure to keep all appointments.
  • Some people who have used this medicine have developed a second form of cancer. It is not known if this medicine caused the second cancer to develop. Talk to your doctor about this risk.
  • Cancer medicines can cause nausea and/or vomiting in most people, sometimes even after receiving medicines to prevent it. Ask your doctor or nurse about other ways to control these side effects.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Blood in your urine or stools
  • New lumps or growths under your skin
  • Painful or difficult breathing
  • Severe nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Skin or eyes turn yellow
  • Skin rash or redness
  • Unexplained fever, chills, cough
  • Unusual bleeding, bruising, or weakness

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Hair loss
  • Missed menstrual periods
  • Sores or white patches on your lips, mouth, or throat
  • Weight loss

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Version Info

  • Last Reviewed on 06/12/2013

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This page was last updated: June 18, 2013

         
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