If you have been diagnosed with multiple myeloma or ovarian cancer, you may receive melphalan (Alkeran®) as part of your chemotherapy treatment. Although this prescription medicine is not a cure for cancer, it can help relieve symptoms of the disease.
It comes as a tablet that is taken by mouth, and as an injection that is given through a needle inserted into a vein (an intravenous, or IV, injection).
Melphalan tablets are approved to treat multiple myeloma and a type of cancer of the ovaries known as epithelial ovarian cancer. The injectable form of the medication is used to treat multiple myeloma in people who cannot take melphalan by mouth.
As a type of alkylating agent, melphalan works by disrupting the way cancer cells grow and multiply. There are also a number of off-label (unapproved) uses for melphalan, such as treating breast cancer, endometrial cancer, and bone marrow cancer.
(Click What Is Melphalan Used For? for a closer look at this drug's uses. This article also talks about whether melphalan is safe for use in older adults and children.)
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Alkeran [package insert]. Rockville, MD: ApoPharma USA, Inc.;November 2011.
Alkeran Tablet [package insert]. Rockville, MD: ApoPharma USA, Inc.;June 2011.
Melphalan. Drug Facts and Comparisons. Drug Facts and Comparisons 4.0 [online]. 2012. Available from Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. September 3, 2012.
Micromedex 2.0 Healthcare Series [Internet database]. Greenwood Village, Colo: Thomson Reuters (Healthcare), Inc. Updated periodically. Accessed September 3, 2012.
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