Alkeran oral / injection

Name: Alkeran oral / injection

What is Alkeran (melphalan oral/injection)?

Melphalan is a cancer medication that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.

Melphalan is used to treat multiple myeloma (a type of blood cancer) and cancer of the ovary.

Melphalan treats only the symptoms of ovarian cancer or multiple myeloma, but does not treat the cancer itself.

Melphalan may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before using Alkeran (melphalan oral/injection)?

You should not use melphalan if you are allergic to it, or if prior treatment with this medication was unsuccessful in controlling your disease.

To make sure melphalan is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • a weak immune system (caused by disease or by using certain medicine);

  • liver disease;

  • kidney disease; or

  • a history of chemotherapy or radiation.

Using melphalan may increase your risk of developing other types of cancer, such as leukemia. Ask your doctor about your specific risk.

Do not use melphalan if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Use effective birth control to avoid pregnancy during your treatment with melphalan. Follow your doctor's instructions about how long to prevent pregnancy after your treatment ends.

This medication may affect fertility (your ability to have children), whether you are a man or a woman.

It is not known whether melphalan passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while using this medicine.

How is Alkeran (melphalan oral/injection) given?

Follow all directions on your prescription label. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose to make sure you get the best results. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Oral melphalan is a tablet you take by mouth. Injectable melphalan is injected into a vein through an IV. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

Your doctor will perform blood tests to make sure you do not have conditions that would prevent you from safely using melphalan.

Melphalan can lower blood cells that help your body fight infections and help your blood to clot. This can make it easier for you to bleed from an injury or get sick from being around others who are ill. Your blood may need to be tested often.

Store melphalan tablets in the refrigerator and protect them from light.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

Call your doctor for instructions if you miss an appointment for your melphalan injection.

For the Consumer

Applies to melphalan: oral tablet

Other dosage forms:

  • intravenous powder for solution

Along with their needed effects, medicines like melphalan (the active ingredient contained in Alkeran) can sometimes cause unwanted effects such as blood problems and other side effects. These and others are described below. Also, because of the way these medicines act on the body, there is a chance that they might cause other unwanted effects that may not occur until months or years after the medicine is used. These delayed effects may include certain types of cancer, such as leukemia. Discuss these possible effects with your doctor.

Along with its needed effects, melphalan may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking melphalan:

Less common
  • Black, tarry stools
  • blood in urine or stools
  • cough or hoarseness, accompanied by fever or chills
  • fast or irregular heart beat
  • fever or chills
  • lower back or side pain, accompanied by fever or chills
  • painful or difficult urination, accompanied by fever or chills
  • pinpoint red spots on skin
  • shortness of breath
  • skin rash or itching (sudden)
  • troubled breathing
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
Rare
  • Diarrhea
  • difficulty swallowing
  • joint pain
  • redness and/or soreness in arm or leg
  • sores in the mouth and on the lips
  • swelling of the feet or lower legs

Some side effects of melphalan may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

Less common
  • Nausea and vomiting

Melphalan Breastfeeding Warnings

There are no data on the excretion of melphalan into human milk. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk and because of the potential for serious adverse reactions due to melphalan in nursing infants, a decision should be made to discontinue nursing or discontinue the drug, taking into account the importance of the drug to the mother.

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