What is this medication for?
Melphalan belongs to the group of cancer-fighting medications known as antineoplastics, and specifically to the group of antineoplastics known as alkylating agents. Melphalan prevents the growth of cancer cells by interfering with the genetic material DNA, which is necessary for reproduction of cells. It is used to treat multiple myeloma (a type of blood cancer) and cancer of the ovary.
Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here. If you are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.
Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.
What form(s) does this medication come in?
Alkeran® is available as:
Some medications may have other generic brands available. Always ask your doctor or pharmacist about the safety of switching between brands of the same medication.
How should I use this medication?
Melphalan is available as tablets and in an injectable form. There are many different dosing schedules used for treatment with melphalan tablets and melphalan injectable.
Melphalan injection: This medication will be injected by the doctor or by a health professional under direct supervision of the doctor. The dose is based on body size. It is usually injected into a vein through a specially prepared site on the skin over 15 to 20 minutes. This treatment is then repeated every 2 to 4 weeks until the total treatment is complete.
Melphalan tablets: The usual dosage of melphalan tablets is 6 mg (3 tablets) daily for 2 to 3 weeks, then stopped for up to 4 weeks. Dosage will usually be resumed at 2 mg (1 tablet) daily once blood cell counts are stable.
It is important that this medication be taken exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Your doctor may want you to drink extra fluids while taking this medication so kidney problems are prevented. Do not stop taking it without talking with your doctor.
This medication may cause nausea and vomiting, but it is important that you continue to use it. If you vomit shortly after taking a dose of melphalan tablets, call your doctor for instructions on whether to skip that dose or to take another dose. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.
As well as interfering with the genetic material DNA of cancer cells, melphalan can interfere with some of your normal cells. This can cause a number of side effects. Keep track of any side effects and report them to your doctor as suggested in the section, "What side effects are possible with this medication?"
Store this medication in the fridge, protect it from light and moisture, and keep it out of the reach of children.
Who should NOT take this medication?
Do not use this medication if you:
- are allergic to melphalan or any ingredients of the medication
- have a cancer that has shown a resistance to melphalan in the past