What is this medication?
MELPHALAN (MEL fa lan) is a chemotherapy drug. This medicine is used to treat multiple myeloma and ovarian cancer.
This medicine may be used for other purposes; ask your health care provider or pharmacist if you have questions.
COMMON BRAND NAME(S): Alkeran
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 counts, like low white cell, platelet, or red cell counts
- prior chemotherapy or radiation therapy
- an unusual or allergic reaction to melphalan, other chemotherapy, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives
- pregnant or trying to get pregnant
How should I use this medication?
Take this medicine by mouth with a glass of water. Follow the directions on the prescription label. Take this medicine on an empty stomach, at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after food. Do not take with food. Take your medicine at regular intervals. Do not take it more often than directed. Do not stop taking except on your doctor's advice.
Talk to your pediatrician regarding the use of this medicine 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?
If you miss a dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your next scheduled dose. Do not take double or extra doses. Call your doctor for advice.
What may interact with this medication?
Do not take this medicine with the following medication:
- live vaccines
This medicine may also interact with the following medications:
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?
This drug may make you feel generally unwell. This is not uncommon, as chemotherapy can affect healthy cells as well as cancer cells. Report any side effects. Continue your course of treatment even though you feel ill unless your doctor tells you to stop.
In some cases, you may be given additional medicines to help with side effects. Follow all directions for their use.
Call your doctor or health care professional for advice if you get a fever, chills or sore throat, or other symptoms of a cold or flu. Do not treat yourself. This drug decreases your body's ability to fight infections. Try to avoid being around people who are sick.
This medicine may increase your risk to bruise or bleed. Call your doctor or health care professional if you notice any unusual bleeding.
You may need blood work done while you are taking this medicine.
Talk to your doctor about your risk of cancer. You may be more at risk for certain types of cancers if you take this medicine.
Do not become pregnant while taking this medicine or for a while after stopping it. Women should inform their doctor if they wish to become pregnant or think they might be pregnant. Men should not father a child while taking this medicine and for a while after stopping it. There is a potential for serious side effects to an unborn child. Talk to your health care professional or pharmacist for more information. Do not breast-feed an infant while taking this medicine.
This medicine has caused ovarian failure in some women. This medicine may interfere with the ability to have a child. This medicine has caused reduced sperm counts in some men. This may interfere with the ability to father a child. You should talk with your doctor or health care professional 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 doctor or health care professional as soon as possible:
- allergic reactions like skin rash, itching or hives, swelling of the face, lips, or tongue
- breathing problems
- blurred vision
- fast heartbeat
- low blood counts - this medicine may decrease the number of white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. You may be at increased risk for infections and bleeding.
- missed menstrual periods
- mouth sores
- nausea, vomiting
- signs of infection - fever or chills, cough, sore throat, pain or difficulty passing urine
- signs of decreased platelets or bleeding - bruising, pinpoint red spots on the skin, black, tarry stools, blood in the urine
- signs of decreased red blood cells - unusually weak or tired, fainting spells, lightheadedness
- signs and symptoms of liver injury like dark yellow or brown urine; general ill feeling or flu-like symptoms; light-colored stools; loss of appetite; nausea; right upper belly pain; unusually weak or tired; yellowing of the eyes or skin
- weight loss
Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your doctor or health care professional if they continue or are bothersome):
- hair loss
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?
Keep out of the reach of children.
Store in the refrigerator between 2 and 8 degrees C (36 and 46 degrees F). Protect from light. Throw away any unused medicine after the expiration date.
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.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy