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Melphalan is used in the treatment of multiple myeloma (a type of blood cancer)

How it works

Melphalan works by damaging the genetic material (DNA) of the cancer cells and stops their growth and multiplication.

Common side effects

Pale colored skin, Palpitations, Rash, Absence of menstrual periods, Back pain, Dark colored urine, Difficulty in swalloing, Shortness of breath, Fainting, Fatigue, Itching, Weight loss, Loss of appetite, Nausea, Sore mouth, Sore throat, Stomach pain / epigastric pain, Unusual lumps or masses, Urticaria, Vomiting, Yellow discoloration of skin, Yellow discoloration of eye

Available Medicine

Expert advice

  • Melphalan to be taken on an empty stomach 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals. Drink at least two to three quarts of fluid every 24 hours, unless you are instructed otherwise. 
  • You may be at risk of infection so try to avoid contact with people with cold, fever or any other signs of infection. 
  • Avoid exposure to sunlight. Use sunscreen lotion and protective clothing. 
  • You may be monitored periodically for complete blood counts (at least one determination prior to each treatment course) during the course of treatment.
  • Melphalan may increase the risk that you will develop other cancers. Talk with your doctor about the risks of taking melphalan.
  • Do not take live vaccines if you are an immunocompromised patient.
  • Use of melphalan is not recommended in children.
  • Use with melphalan extreme caution if your bone marrow reserve have been compromised by prior irradiation or chemotherapy, or if your marrow function is recovering from previous cytotoxic therapy.
  • Use appropriate contraceptive methods to avoid pregnancy during melphalan treatment.

Frequently asked questions


Q. Is melphalan a vesicant (irritant)?
Melphalan is not a vesicant but an anti-cancer drug

Q. How is melphalan given?
Melphalan is given by oral or intravenous route; dosing varies by purpose and route of administration as well as patient weight

Q. Does melphalan cause hair loss/ neuropathy/ liver damage?
Melphalan causes hair loss as one of the side effects. but cause for liver damage and neuropathy is not known

Q. How does melphalan work/ how does melphalan kill cancer cells?
Melphalan belongs to class of drugs called alkylating agents. It works by stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells in your body.

Content on this page was last updated on 13 January, 2017, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)