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melphalan - oral, Alkeran (cont.)

USES: This medication is used to treat certain types of cancer (multiple myeloma, ovarian cancer). Melphalan belongs to a class of drugs known as alkylating agents. It works by slowing or stopping the growth of cancer cells.

HOW TO USE: Take this medication by mouth, usually once a day as directed by your doctor. Your doctor may direct you to take this medication on an empty stomach. Follow your doctor's directions closely.The dosage is based on your medical condition, response to treatment, and blood counts. The dosing of this medication is different for everyone. Your doctor may direct you to take it daily for several weeks, followed by several weeks of not taking the drug, and then direct you to take it daily again. Other patients may take it for only a few days, and then repeat the treatment every few weeks. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about this medication. It is very important that you understand exactly how to take this medication to get the most benefit and to lower your chance of serious side effects.Unless your doctor instructs you otherwise, drink plenty of fluids while taking this medication. This helps your kidneys to remove the drug from your body and avoid some of the side effects.Do not increase your dose or take this medication more often than prescribed. Your condition will not improve any faster, and the risk of serious side effects may be increased. Do not stop taking this medication without talking with your doctor, even if you feel nauseated or experience vomiting. If you vomit shortly after a dose, or if you miss a dose, contact your doctor immediately.It may take several months before you see a benefit from this drug.Since this drug can be absorbed through the skin and lungs, women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should not handle this medication or breathe the dust from the tablets. All people should wash their hands carefully after handling this drug.

SIDE EFFECTS: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, lip/mouth sores, and loss of appetite may occur. Nausea and vomiting can be severe. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe medication to prevent or relieve nausea and vomiting. Eating several small meals, not eating before treatment, or limiting activity may help lessen some of these effects. If these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.Temporary hair loss may occur. Normal hair growth should return after treatment has ended.Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Follow your doctor's orders and keep all medical/lab appointments to lower your risk of serious side effects.Tell your doctor immediately if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur: easy bruising/bleeding, bloody/black/tarry stools, lower back or side pain, decreased or missed menstrual periods, decreased sexual function, pinkish urine, painful/difficult urination, unusual weight loss, vomit that looks like coffee grounds.This medication can lower the body's ability to fight an infection. Tell your doctor promptly if you develop any signs of an infection such as fever, chills, or persistent sore throat.Tell your doctor immediately if any of these rare but very serious side effects occur: painful/difficult breathing, chest pain, coughing up blood, persistent cough, unusual lumps/masses under the skin, pain/redness/swelling of the arms/legs, stomach/abdominal pain, yellowing eyes/skin, dark urine, unusual tiredness.A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, seek immediate medical attention if you notice any of the following symptoms of a serious allergic reaction: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.In the US -Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/16/2014


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