MMF may increase your chances of certain cancers like skin cancer and lymphoma (cancer of the lymph system). When outside, avoid unnecessary or prolonged exposure to sunlight, wear protective clothing, and apply sunscreen. Call your doctor if you experience a new skin sore or bump, a change in the size or color of a mole, a brown or black skin lesion (sore) with uneven edges, a sore whose one part does not look like the other, skin changes, sores that do not heal, unexplained fever, tiredness that does not go away, weight loss, or pain or swelling in the neck, groin, or armpits.
Q. Why has my doctor given me MMF after I have had a kidney transplant?
MMF is an immunosuppressant. MMF has been prescribed to you to help your body accept the donor kidney. It does so by working on the cells of your immune system, which fight with any foreign substance and reject its presence. This helps in making the transplanted organ more acceptable to your body.
Q. How long does MMF take to start working?
MMF does not start working immediately and it may take about 8 to 12 weeks before you see any benefits. To ensure that your condition does not reappear, you may have to keep taking the medicine for several years.
Q. Is MMF a steroid or a chemotherapy drug? Can it cause hair loss?
MMF is neither a steroid nor a chemotherapy medicine. It is an immunosuppressant which means that it acts on your immune system to suppress or weaken it so that your body does not reject the donated organ of another person. Hair loss is a common side effect of MMF.
Q. Do I need any special tests while taking MMF?
Since MMF can affect blood count and affect the kidneys and liver, your doctor will ask you to have a blood test before you start the treatment. Once the treatment starts, you will be required to take regular blood tests to check for any changes in the blood. These blood tests will help monitor your response to the medicine and the development of any side effects.
Q. My doctor has asked me to stay away from a person who has chicken pox or shingles. Why?
MMF is an immunosuppressant, which means that it decreases the activity of the immune system. Since your immune system is already weak, if you come in contact with a patient of chicken pox or shingles, you may develop it too. This is the reason that your doctor has advised you to be cautious. Therefore, follow your doctor’s advice and contact your doctor immediately if you get chicken pox or shingles as you may require special treatment.
Q. What precautions should a female follow while taking MMF?
Do not take MMF if you are pregnant or are planning a pregnancy. There is a high risk of miscarriage (loss of the pregnancy) during the first 3 months of pregnancy. It may even cause birth defects (problems that are present at birth) in the baby. Therefore, you must use two acceptable forms of birth control together for 4 weeks before you start taking MMF, during the treatment, and for 6 weeks after you stop taking MMF. Your doctor will suggest the two birth control methods which suit you the best. It is important to use a second form of birth control along with birth control pills as MMF may decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills.
Q. What precautions should a male follow while taking MMF?
It is recommended that either the man or her partner should use reliable contraception during treatment and for 90 days after the treatment. Men should not donate semen during the therapy or for 90 days following discontinuation of MMF.