Generic Name: melphalan (MEL fa lan)Brand Names: Alkeran, Alkeran I.V.
Melphalan is a cancer medication. Melphalan interferes with the growth of cancer cells and slows their growth and spread in the body.
Melphalan is used to treat multiple myeloma (a type of blood cancer), cancer of the ovary, and breast cancer.
Melphalan may also be used for other purposes not listed in this medication guide.
Melphalan can cause serious side effects, including: decreased bone marrow function and blood problems (easy bruising or bleeding, unusual weakness, fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms, bloody or black stools, pale or yellowed skin, confusion or weakness); breathing problems; or liver damage (nausea, stomach pain, low fever, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice [yellowing of the skin or eyes]). Call your doctor at once if you have any of these side effects.
In some cases, second cancers have been reported to occur during and after treatment with melphalan. Talk to your doctor about your individual risk and benefit of this medication.What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before using Alkeran (melphalan)?
Before using melphalan, tell your doctor if you have:
decreased bone marrow (from other diseases or medications).
If you have any of these conditions, you may not be able to use melphalan, or you may need a dosage adjustment or special tests during treatment.FDA pregnancy category D. This medication can cause harm to an unborn baby. Do not use melphalan if you are pregnant. Tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment. Use an effective form of birth control while you are using this medication.
This medication can affect fertility (your ability to have children), whether you are a man or a woman.It is not known whether melphalan passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not take melphalan without telling your doctor if you are breast feeding a baby.
Take this medication exactly as it was prescribed for you. Do not take the medication in larger or smaller amounts, or take it for longer than recommended by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription label.
Your doctor may occasionally change your dose to make sure you get the best results from this medication.Take the melphalan oral tablet with a large glass of water.
Melphalan injection is given through a needle placed into a vein. Your doctor, nurse, or other healthcare provider will give you this injection in a clinic or hospital setting.Tell your doctor right away if any of the melphalan injection gets on your skin or if you feel pain, burning, or other skin irritation when the medicine is injected.
Melphalan is usually given for a few weeks at a time, followed by a 4-week period off the drug, during which your blood is tested to see how your body responded to the medication. Your doctor will determine how often you use melphalan and for how long. Follow your doctor's instructions carefully.
Melphalan can lower the blood cells that help your body fight infections. This can make it easier for you to bleed from an injury or get sick from being around others who are ill. To be sure your blood cells do not get too low, your blood will need to be tested on a regular basis. It is important that you not miss any scheduled visits to your doctor.Store melphalan tablets in the refrigerator and protect them from light. If you store melphalan injection at home, keep it at room temperature and protect it from heat, moisture, and light.
Call your doctor for instructions if you miss a dose of melphalan.
Overdose symptoms may include severe nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, mouth sores, bloody or black stools, coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds.
Avoid contact with people who have colds, the flu, or other contagious illnesses. Contact your doctor immediately if you develop signs of infection.
Do not receive a "live" vaccine while you are being treated with melphalan, and avoid coming into contact with anyone who has recently received a live vaccine. There is a chance that the virus could be passed on to you.
easy bruising or bleeding, unusual weakness;
fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms;
nausea, stomach pain, low fever, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);
missed menstrual periods;
unusual lumps or masses;
red skin rash, rapid pulse, pain, weight loss;
breathing problems or a cough that won't go away; or
pale or yellowed skin, dark colored urine, confusion and weakness.
Less serious side effects may include:
mild nausea, vomiting, diarrhea;
white patches or sores inside your mouth or on your lips;
temporary hair loss; or
mild skin itching and rash.
In some cases, second cancers have been reported to occur during and after treatment with melphalan. Talk to your doctor about your individual risk and benefit in using this medication.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Before taking melphalan, tell your doctor if you are being treated with any other medicines that weaken your immune system, such as:
cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune);
steroids (prednisone and others); or
another chemotherapy medicine.
This list is not complete and there may be other drugs that can interact with melphalan. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor.