Melphalan - Uses - Dosages - Side Effects - Precautions

Melphalan: Frequently Asked Questions Answered

What Is Melphalan?

Melphalan is a chemotherapy medication belonging to the class of alkylating agents. It is sold under the brand name Alkeran. Melphalan contains antineoplastic properties which prevent the development of tumors. It treats various forms of cancer, including multiple myeloma, ovarian cancer, melanoma, and primary amyloidosis. The melphalan drug functions to stop or reduce the formation of cancer cells. It also disrupts the DNA functionality in the body. Melphalan can either be injected or consumed orally.

What are the uses of Melphalan?

Melphalan is a drug mainly used to treat multiple types of cancer. It contains chemicals to treat:

  • Multiple myeloma is the cancer of white blood cells or plasma cells. These cells produce excess protein in the bones and blood that build up throughout the body and damage various organs.
  • Ovarian cancer develops in the female reproductive organ, where eggs are formed.
  • Malignant melanoma is a type of skin cancer that occurs in cells (melanocytes) that control pigmentation.
  • Breast Cancer occurs when breast cells begin to grow abnormally.
  • Amyloidosis is a condition that occurs when unwanted protein builds up in tissues and organs in the body. 

Melphalan is a prescription medicine available in both tablet and injection form. The tablet is taken orally on an empty stomach once a day. Melphalan can also be injected or infused through the vein. You may consult our medical experts for more details.

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What are the side effects of Melphalan?

Usually, the side effects of Melphalan are mild and go away with time. These include:

  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Soreness of mouth and throat.
  • Loss of hair around eyebrows, eyelashes, and pubic area.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Pale skin.
  • Rashes.
  • Irregular menstrual cycle.
  • Muscular pain or back pain.

However, there may be some severe side effects of the treatment. Talk to our medical experts in case you experience:

  • Bone marrow depression.
  • Irregular heartbeat.
  • Bladder irritation.
  • Difficulty in breathing or swallowing.

Besides, some precautions need to be taken before you start the treatment. Let your doctor know if:

  • You are allergic to any chemicals contained in Melphalan or any other medications.
  • You are undergoing any other treatment or taking medications.
  • You have received any radiation therapy or chemotherapy in the past.
  • You suffer from liver or kidney disease.
  • You are anemic.
  • You are pregnant.

Other precautions include:

  • Do not breastfeed while taking the treatment.
  • Do not receive any vaccination without consulting the doctor.
  • Do not conceive a child during the treatment.


Frequently Asked Questions about Melphalan

1. Does Melphalan cause Neuropathy?

Mostly, neuropathy is not a side effect of the Melphalan drug. In some cases, patients suffering from multiple myeloma may experience peripheral neuropathy due to the disease or its treatment. It affects the peripheral nervous system or the arms and legs. There may occur weakness, numbness, prickling, or tingling sensation in the fingers.

2. Is Melphalan a Chemotherapy?

Melphalan is a chemotherapy drug majorly used to treat cancer that occurs in plasma cells.

This anti-cancer drug contains alkylating agent properties which inhibit DNA and RNA synthesis. It destroys both dividing and non-dividing tumor cells. Melphalan can be prescribed either on its own or in combination with other cancer drugs.

3. What type of chemo is Melphalan?

Melphalan is an antineoplastic or cytotoxic drug. It inhibits the development of neoplasm or tumors in the body. It falls under the alkylating agent category. These are antineoplastic agents used to treat cancer that attach an alkyl group to DNA. It causes the decomposition of DNA strands preventing the multiplication of cancer cells in the body.

4. Do you lose your hair on Melphalan?

One of the side effects of Melphalan treatment is hair loss. You may witness thinning or loss of hair within two to four weeks of the first dose of Melphalan. Loss of hair may occur on eyebrows, eyelashes, and pubic areas. However, hair may appear to grow again once you stop the treatment that may take around 6 to 12 months.

5. How strong is Melphalan?

According to researchers, the Melphalan chemotherapy drug is well-tolerated. A high dose of 200mg/m can be given as a single agent to the patient. For Myeloablation, a dose of 180 mg is required as patients will recover hematopoietic and gut function within a month of exposure to 140 mg without HPC rescue. Moreover, Melphalan is eliminated through renal excretion.

6. How often is Melphalan given?

Your doctor may decide the dose and schedule of the treatment based on certain factors such as your height, weight, health condition, type of cancer. In general, Melphalan should be taken on an empty stomach 1 hour before or 2 hours after your meals. It is advisable to drink 2-3 quarts of fluids every day.

7. What class of drug is Melphalan?

Melphalan drug belongs to the class of alkylating agents. An alkylating antineoplastic agent contains properties for the treatment of cancer. It works by adding an alkyl group to the DNA molecule. It leads to the decomposition of DNA strands thereby, preventing cancer cell multiplication.

8. Does Melphalan cause hair loss?

Like other cancer treatments, consumption of melphalan chemotherapy drugs causes hair loss in various parts of the body. A noticeable loss of hair can be seen on the patient's eyebrows, eyelashes, and pubic areas. These changes can be seen within the first two or four weeks of the treatment.

9. What is Melphalan conditioning?

Melphalan conditioning is a therapy that creates an area in the bone marrow of the patient. It allows new blood stem cells to grow. It prevents the patient’s body from rejecting the transplanted cells. Besides, it destroys cancer cells in the body. High-dose Melphalan (HDM) is the most common conditioning process. It is used for autologous stem cell transplantation in patients with multiple myeloma.

Contact experts at Yashoda Hospitals to know more about Melphalan, its uses, doses, side effects, and precautions.

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Disclaimer: The information provided herein is accurate, updated and complete as per the best practices of the Company. Please note that this information should not be treated as a replacement for physical medical consultation or advice. We do not guarantee the accuracy and the completeness of the information so provided. The absence of any information and/or warning to any drug shall not be considered and assumed as an implied assurance of the Company. We do not take any responsibility for the consequences arising out of the aforementioned information and strongly recommend you for a physical consultation in case of any queries or doubts.


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