What is this medication?
MELPHALAN (MEL fa lan) treats multiple myeloma, a type of bone marrow cancer. It works by slowing down the growth of cancer cells. It may also be used to help prepare your body before a stem cell transplant. It works by slowing or stopping the growth of cancer cells in your bone marrow. This makes room for the transplanted cells to grow.
This medicine may be used for other purposes; ask your health care provider or pharmacist if you have questions.
COMMON BRAND NAME(S): Alkeran, Evomela
What should I tell my care team before I take this medication?
They need to know if you have any of these conditions:
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Low blood cell levels, such as low white cells, platelets, or red blood cells
- Prior chemotherapy or radiation therapy
- An unusual or allergic reaction to melphalan, other chemotherapy, other medications, foods, dyes, or preservatives
- Pregnant or trying to get pregnant
How should I use this medication?
This medication is injected into a vein. It is given by your care team in a hospital or clinic setting.
Talk to your care team about the use of this medication in children. Special care may be needed.
Overdosage: If you think you have taken too much of this medicine contact a poison control center or emergency room at once.
NOTE: This medicine is only for you. Do not share this medicine with others.
What if I miss a dose?
Keep appointments for follow-up doses. It is important not to miss your dose. Call your care team if you are unable to keep an appointment.
What may interact with this medication?
Do not take this medication with the following:
- Live vaccines
This medication may also interact with the following:
This list may not describe all possible interactions. Give your health care provider a list of all the medicines, herbs, non-prescription drugs, or dietary supplements you use. Also tell them if you smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs. Some items may interact with your medicine.
What should I watch for while using this medication?
Your condition will be monitored carefully while you are receiving this medication. You may need blood work while taking this medication.
Talk to your care team about your risk of cancer. You may be more at risk for certain types of cancers if you take this medication.
Talk to your care team if you or your partner may be pregnant. This medication can cause serious birth defects if taken during pregnancy and for 6 months after the last dose. Contraception is recommended while taking this medication and for 6 months after the last dose. Your care team can help you find the option that works for you.
If your partner can get pregnant, use a condom during sex while taking this medication and for 3 months after the last dose.
Do not breastfeed while taking this medication and for 1 week after the last dose.
This medication may cause infertility. Talk to your care team if you are concerned about your fertility.
What side effects may I notice from receiving this medication?
Side effects that you should report to your care team as soon as possible:
- Allergic reactions—skin rash, itching, hives, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
- Infection—fever, chills, cough, sore throat, wounds that don't heal, pain or trouble when passing urine, general feeling of discomfort or being unwell
- Liver injury—right upper belly pain, loss of appetite, nausea, light-colored stool, dark yellow or brown urine, yellowing skin or eyes, unusual weakness or fatigue
- Low red blood cell level—unusual weakness or fatigue, dizziness, headache, trouble breathing
- Painful swelling, warmth, or redness of the skin, blisters or sores at the infusion site
- Unusual bruising or bleeding
Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your care team if they continue or are bothersome):
- Pain, redness, or swelling with sores inside the mouth or throat
This list may not describe all possible side effects. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Where should I keep my medication?
This medication is given in a hospital or clinic. It will not be stored at home.
NOTE: This sheet is a summary. It may not cover all possible information. If you have questions about this medicine, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider.
Additional Information From Chemocare.com About Melphalan
- If taking melphalan pills take on an empty stomach 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals.
- Drink at least two to three quarts of fluid every 24 hours, unless you are instructed otherwise.
- You may be at risk of infection so try to avoid crowds or people with colds and those not feeling well, and report fever or any other signs of infection immediately to your health care provider.
- Wash your hands often.
- To help treat/prevent mouth sores, use a soft toothbrush, and rinse three times a day with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of baking soda and/or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt mixed with 8 ounces of water.
- Use an electric razor and a soft toothbrush to minimize bleeding.
- Avoid contact sports or activities that could cause injury.
- This medication when taken as pills causes little nausea. But if you should experience nausea, take anti-nausea medications as prescribed by your doctor, and eat small frequent meals. Sucking on lozenges and chewing gum may also help.
- Avoid sun exposure. Wear SPF 15 (or higher) sunblock and protective clothing.
- In general, drinking alcoholic beverages should be kept to a minimum or avoided completely. You should discuss this with your doctor.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Maintain good nutrition.
- If you experience symptoms or side effects, be sure to discuss them with your health care team. They can prescribe medications and/or offer other suggestions that are effective in managing such problems.
When to contact your doctor or health care provider:
Seek emergency help immediately and notify your health care provider, it you experience the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath, wheezing, difficulty breathing, closing up of the throat, swelling of facial features, hives (possible allergic reaction).
Contact your health care provider immediately, day or night, if you should experience any of the following symptoms:
- Fever of 100.4° F (38° C) or higher, chills (possible signs of infection)
The following symptoms require medical attention, but are not an emergency. Contact your health care provider within 24 hours of noticing any of the following:
- Nausea (interferes with ability to eat and unrelieved with prescribed medication)
- Vomiting (vomiting more than 4-5 times in a 24 hour period)
- Diarrhea (4-6 episodes in a 24-hour period)
- Unusual bleeding or bruising
- Black or tarry stools, or blood in your stools or urine
- Extreme fatigue (unable to carry on self-care activities)
- Mouth sores (painful redness, swelling or ulcers)
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes. Signs of infection such as redness or swelling, pain on swallowing, coughing up mucous, or painful urination.
Always inform your health care provider if you experience any unusual symptoms.