Alkeran (Melphalan)

by Mathew Marshall
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Alkeran (Melphalan)

Warning: Alkeran can cause disorders of the blood which may become serious in some patients. This medication can prevent your body from being able to fight infections, and it can prevent your body from being able to stop or prevent bleeding in case of an injury. The higher your dose is, the more likely you are to see some of these side effects. Most doctors will require blood testing during the first month of using this medication which they will use to help identify any problems before they become serious. If you notice any issues with bleeding, bruising, fatigue, or symptoms of an infection, please notify your doctor immediately.
If you are pregnant or plan on getting pregnant, talk to your doctor before using this medication as it may increase your risk of birth defects.

Indications: Alkeran is used in the treatment of various types of cancer including ovarian cancer and multiple myeloma. As an alkylatying agent, this medication can help slow or stop the growth of active cancer cells. This medication may be administered orally as a pill or intravenously as an injection depending on your treatment plan and what your doctor feels is best for you. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 463646_774551.jpgAlkeran is used in the treatment of these other cancers:

  • malignant melanoma
  • rhabdomyosarcoma
  • Breast cancer – in advanced stages or in addition to surgical treatment.

   Occasionally, Alkeran is used to treat the following cancers:

  • testicular cancer
  • advanced prostate cancer
  • chronic myelogenous leukemia, one of four main types of leukemia
  • Osteogenic sarcoma, one of the most common forms of bone cancer in children.

Dosage & How to Use: Alkeran can be taken orally in pill form or injected by a medical professional. Depending on the type of cancer you have and which treatment plan your doctor feels is best, you’ll be given the right usage for your needs. Dosage depends on various factors including, age, overall health, type of cancer, and other treatments being used. It is important that you strictly follow the dosage given to you by your doctor and that you do not change it without first getting your doctor’s approval.

Some patient will use this medication consistently while others will use it for a short time then take a break from usage. These various usage cycles help prevent side effects, so it’s important that you follow your medication schedule as directed by your doctor.

Contraindication and Precautions: Some patients may be allergic to inactive ingredients contained within this medication, so make sure that your doctor and pharmacist know about all of your allergies. Some health conditions or previous treatments may be contraindicated when used with this medication. To avoid any serious problems, make sure that your doctor and pharmacist have a complete list of your health history, medicine use, and treatments.

If you have one of the following medical conditions, let it be known to your doctor before beginning an Alkeran treatment:

  • lactase deficiency
  • kidney problems
  • fructose intolerance
  • galactosemia
  • glucosegalactose malabsorption
  • You have been treated with radiotherapy or antineoplastic agents during the previous 3 weeks.

Interactions:  There are some prescriptions and over the counter medications which may cause serious side effects when taken with Alkeran. Your doctor and pharmacist will help you prevent serious complications by monitoring the various medications you are taking at all times. Make sure that you update your doctor if you add, end, or change the use of any other medication – and never change or stop taking this medication unless directed by your doctor. For a complete up to date list of possible drug interactions associated with this medication, consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Side effects: Alkeran attack not only cancer cells but healthy cells that multiply quickly, which often leads to adverse effects. The most common Alkeran side effects include:  

  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • loss of weight
  • hair loss
  • weakness
  • nausea and vomiting
  • rash and itching
  • increased risk of bleeding
  • Pulmonary fibrosis (rare)
  • Mouth blistering, sometimes inflammation of the mouth.

See your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • fever
  • dizziness
  • chills
  • sore throat
  • green, black, tarry stools
  • red urine or blood in urine
  • persistent cough
  • missed menstrual periods
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • increased risk of infection
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
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