What is melphalan?
Melphalan (also called Alkeran®) is an anticancer medicine. It is available as a white 2-mg tablet taken by mouth and as a clear liquid given by vein (IV).
Melphalan can pose a health hazard to caregivers. All caregivers should take safety precautions while giving this drug. For 48 hours after this drug is given, the patient’s body fluids can contain the drug. During that 48-hour period, caregivers should follow safety guidelines when handling the patient’s vomit, blood, urine, and bowel movements, including diapers. These guidelines include wearing gloves when cleaning up body fluids. For a complete list of safety precautions, see “Do you know… Protecting caregivers from drug hazards.”
Possible side effects of melphalan
- Irritated tissue and skin damage at the IV site
- Loss of appetite
- Allergic reaction: symptoms include rash, itching, swelling of the feet or ankles, trouble breathing, fast heart beat, or low blood pressure
Later (more than a day after treatment starts)
- Mouth sores
- Low blood counts, usually after 14-21 days
- Hair loss
- Decreased kidney function
- Decreased liver function
These are the most common side effects, but there may be others. Please report all side effects to the doctor or nurse.
In case of a severe side effect or reaction, call the doctor, nurse or pharmacist at 595-3300. If you are outside the Memphis area, dial toll-free 1-866-2STJUDE (1-866-278-5833), and press 0 once the call is connected.
Special instructions for melphalan
- Melphalan tablets should be taken on an empty stomach , 1 (one) hour before a meal or 2 hours after a meal.
- Melphalan can cause nausea and vomiting. The doctor may prescribe medicine to keep you from feeling sick and throwing up after you receive melphalan.
- Tell the nurse right away if you have pain or redness at the IV site.
- Drink plenty of liquids while you are receiving melphalan.
- It may be easier for you to get infections while you are receiving melphalan. Stay away from crowds or people with colds, flu, or other infections.
- This medicine may make your mouth sore and irritated. The doctor or nurse may give you oral rinses to keep your mouth clean after you receive melphalan.
- Blood samples will be taken regularly to check for changes in kidney or liver function and to check blood counts.
- Melphalan tablets should be stored in the refrigerator and protected from light.
Safe handling of melphalan
All chemotherapy drugs taken by mouth can post a health hazard to caregivers and patients. You should be careful when handling this medicine and try to keep the drug from touching the skin. Taking precautions will ensure that both the patient and the caregiver are protected as well as possible.
- Prepare a clean area where the drug can be handled safely (away from areas where food is prepared, out of the reach of children, and out from under any air vents or fans).
- We suggest you or the caregiver wear gloves while handling this medicine. Wash your hands right away if your skin comes in contact with the medicine.
- Carefully wash tablet cutters with warm soapy water after each use and allow to dry. Completely clean up any spills in the area where the medicine is prepared.
This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.
St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.
ATTENTION: If you speak another language, assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).
ATENCIÓN: si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).
تنبيه: إذا كنت تتحدث باللغة العربية فيمكنك الاستعانة بخدمات المساعدة اللغوية المتوفرة لك مجانا. .يرجى الاتصال بالرقم. 5833-278-866-1 (الهاتف النصي: 1040-595-901-1).