What Melphalan is and what it is used for?
- Melphalan is an alkylating agent that exerts its anticancer activity by reacting with DNA and interfering with DNA replication and cell division. This stops the growth and spread of cancer cell in the body.
- Melphalan is given as the conditioning regimen prior to autologous stem cell transplantation in patients with multiple myeloma,or as the palliative treatment of multiple myeloma if oraltherapy is not appropriate.
How Melphalan is given?
- It is given as an infusion into the vein over 30-60 minutes.
What should I know while receiving Melphalan?
- Do not receive this drug when you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Men and women should use effective contraception during treatment and for at least 6 months after the treatment ends.
- This drug may affect fertility. You can talk to your doctor about methods of preserving fertility before treatment starts.
- Do not receive any kind of vaccination without doctor's approval.
- You will have regular blood tests during treatment. Blood tests help your doctor understand how well melphalan is working and monitor any side effect you might get.
- There are many drugs may affect how melphalan works. Tell your doctor about all the medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
- The existing health problems may affect the use of melphalan. You should let your doctor know if you have any other medical problems, especially if you have liver or kidney problems.
- If melphalan leaks out of the vein at the injection site and into nearby tissue, it can cause severe tissue damage. Tell your nurse right away if you notice swelling, pain, or redness at the injection site when you are receiving melphalan.
Common side effects
- Low white blood cell count
You may have a higher risk of getting infections. Try to stay away from crowds and wash hands often. Tell your doctor right away if you have repeated fevers, coughing, stuffy nose, a painful urination or wound that becomes red and swollen.
- Low red blood cell count
You may look pale and get tired more easily. Let your doctor know if you experience any difficulty breathing or dizziness when changing positions.
- Weakness and fatigue
Try to pace yourself and rest as much as possible. Seek medical advice if fatigue does not go away when you rest and sleep.
- Diarrhea and constipation
Talk to your doctor and ask for advice. Drinking plenty of water and dietary changes can improve the conditions.
- Nausea and vomiting
Medicines may be given before the treatment to prevent it happening. Eating and drinking often in small amounts may reduce the discomfort.
- Loss of appetite
Try to eat in small quantities and have frequent meals. If your appetite does not get any better after a few days, tell your doctor.
- Electrolyte imbalance (potassium levels)
You may feel weak or numb, have muscle spasms, or twitch. Your doctor will monitor your electrolyte levels and may prescribe specific electrolytes to be given by intravenous injection or taken by mouth.
- Swelling of lower legs or hands
Tell your doctor if your hands, arms, legs, or feet feel puffy or tender. The doctor may give medicines to reduce your symptoms and suggest ways to prevent fluid buildup.
- Mouth sores
Sucking on ice cubes before, during, and after the infusion can reduce the chance of having mouth sores. Your doctor can give you medicines that help you feel better if you have mouth sores. Good mouth care will help prevent mouth sores.
Less common side effects
- Allergic reaction
This may happen during or shortly after the infusion, causing fever and chills, breathing difficulties, swelling of throat or face, or hives. Tell your nurse right away if you feel unwell during an infusion.
- Changes in liver function
Melphalan may affect how your liver works. Seek medical help right away if you have yellowing of the skin or eyes, dark or brown urine, or pain in abdomen.
- Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water every day can help make your recovery a smoother process.
- Alcohol and cigarettes may interfere with certain medicines or worsen side effects from chemotherapy treatment. It is wise to avoid alcohol and cigarette smoking during cancer treatment. If you have any problem about drinking alcohol and smoking, you should check with your doctor.