ALKERAN (Melphalan)

Warning: Alkeran can cause serious issues with the blood, including decreased function of bone marrow which lowers the number of white blood cells and platelets your body can produce. The lowering of white blood cells may make you prone to more infections, and a smaller platelet count can cause excessive bleeding from even small cuts. It is important that your doctor monitor your blood to watch for any potential problems, especially during the first several weeks of treatment. If you experience any trouble with bleeding, bruising or infections, notify your doctor immediately.

This medication may interact with other medications, so make sure that your doctor and pharmacist know about any other medications or treatments you are using.

Indications:  Alkeran is used to treat various types of cancer. As a cancer specific medication, it works to slow or even stop the growth of cancer cells within the body. This medication comes in a form which can be taken orally, and a form which is injected intravenously by a medical professional. Your doctor will let you know which type is best for you.

Common cancers treated with Alkeran include:

  • multiple myeloma
  • ovarian cancer
  • 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:  Dosage of Alkeran is specific to each individual patient and is dependent on age, medical history, other medications being used, and previous cancer treatments. Depending on which form of this medication you are given, oral or injection, your doctor will tell you which dosage will be best for you and which form will be best for you. Do not change the dosage of your medication once it has been given without first speaking to your doctor.

Interactions: Because Alkeran can interact negatively with other medications, it’s important that you consult with your doctor before making any changes to this or any other medication you are taking. As with all medications, serious side effects can occur when the wrong medications are mixed together. No matter what drugs you take, consult with your doctor to make sure they won’t cause any harm.

Contraindications: There are several contraindications you need to be aware of before using this medication to treat cancer. Pregnancy may be complicated or birth defects may be caused by this drug, so talk to your doctor if you are pregnant or if you are planning to become pregnant. Being vaccinated may be contraindicated to using this medication, so make sure to include any vaccinations in the list of medications you are currently taking .

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
  • 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:

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

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