What Is Melphalan Used For?

Using Melphalan for Treating Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer occurs when cancerous cells form in the tissues of the ovaries, the female reproductive organs that produce eggs (ova) and hormones. Many times, women with ovarian cancer do not have any symptoms, or only mild symptoms, until the disease has already spread beyond the ovaries. At this point, the cancer is difficult to treat. For this reason, it is important to recognize early symptoms of the disease.
 
(Click on Ovarian Cancer Symptoms for possible symptoms of this cancer, including early symptoms.)
 
There are a few different types of ovarian cancer. Melphalan is approved specifically to treat ovarian epithelial cancer, a type of ovarian cancer in which cancerous cells form in the tissue covering the ovary. Ovarian epithelial cancer is the most common type of ovarian cancer.
 
In general, treatment for ovarian cancer can include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Melphalan is a chemotherapy treatment option. It is approved for use when ovarian cancer is too advanced to be treated with surgery.
 

How Does It Work?

Melphalan is part of a group of medications called alkylating agents. In general, alkylating agents work by causing strands of DNA to bond to each other and become linked (this is known as "cross-linking"). The linked strands cannot uncoil and separate, which is necessary for the DNA to replicate. Because DNA replication is essential for cells to grow and multiply, alkylating agents like melphalan prevent cell growth and multiplication, and may cause cell death.
 

Can Children Use It?

Although this drug is not approved for use in children, it is sometimes used off-label for the treatment of certain conditions in children. Talk with your child's healthcare provider about the particular benefits and risks of using melphalan in children.
 
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