Melphalan (Injection)

Introduction

Melphalan (MEL-fa-lan)

Treats symptoms of plasma cell cancer (multiple myeloma).

Brand Name(s)

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

Alkeran IV, Alkeran, Novaplus Melphalan Hydrochloride

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used

You should not receive this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to melphalan or if you are pregnant. Make sure your doctor knows if you have used this medicine before.

How to Use This Medicine

Injectable

  • 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.
  • You will receive this medicine while you are in a hospital or cancer treatment center. A nurse or other trained health professional will give you this medicine.
  • Your doctor will prescribe your exact dose and tell you how often it should be given. This medicine is given through a needle placed in one of your veins.
  • It usually takes at least 15 minutes to receive one dose of this medicine. You will then need to wait 2 to 4 weeks before receiving the next dose.
  • Do not get this medicine in your eyes, mouth, or nose or on your skin. Tell your caregiver right away if this happens.
  • This medicine may work slowly over several months. To get the most benefit, keep using it for as long as your doctor tells you to.
  • You may also receive medicines to help prevent nausea and vomiting.

If a dose is missed:

  • Your doctor will prescribe your exact dose and tell you how often it should be given. This medicine is given through a needle placed in one of your veins.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid

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

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are also using cyclosporine (such as Gengraf®, Neoral®, or Sandimmune®), cisplatin (Platinol®), carmustine (BiCNU®), or nalidixic acid (Neggram®).
  • Talk to your doctor before getting any vaccine while you are receiving this medicine. Vaccines may not work as well, or they could make you ill while you are using this medicine. Avoid live vaccines, such as smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, and the nasal flu vaccine.
  • Tell your doctor if you have ever been treated with radiation or other cancer medicines.

Warnings While Using This Medicine

  • 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 might make a woman stop having menstrual periods temporarily.
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are breastfeeding, or if you have kidney disease.
  • 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.
  • Some people using this medicine have developed a second form of cancer, even years after stopping the medicine. It is not known if this medicine caused the cancer. Talk to your doctor about this risk.
  • Your doctor will need to check your blood at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Be sure to keep all appointments.
  • 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.
  • Bloody or black, tarry stools.
  • Fast heartbeat.
  • Fever, chills, or cough.
  • Lightheadedness or fainting.
  • New lumps or growths under your skin.
  • Pain, swelling, blisters, or sores where the IV needle is placed.
  • Severe nausea and vomiting, seizure, or severe muscle stiffness.
  • Skin rash.
  • Sores or white patches on your lips, mouth, or throat.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Unusual bleeding, bruising, or weakness.
  • Yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes.

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

  • Hair loss.
  • Mild nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • Swollen, red, tender places on your skin.
  • 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

Review Date: 2011-02-04 Reviewed By: Keywords: ,
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