Mechlorethamine is used to treat Hodgkin’s lymphoma (Hodgkin’s disease) and certain types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (types of cancer that begin in a type of white blood cells that normally fights infection); mycosis fungoides (a type of cancer of the immune system that first appears as skin rashes); certain types of leukemia (cancer of the white blood cells), including chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML); and lung cancer. Mechlorethamine is also used to treat polycythemia vera (a disease in which too many red blood cells are made in the bone marrow). It is also used to treat malignant effusions (a condition when fluid collects in the lungs or around the heart) that are caused by cancerous tumors. Mechlorethamine is in a class of medications called alkylating agents. It works by slowing or stopping the growth of cancer cells in your body.
Side Effects Of Mechlorethamine
Mechlorethamine may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- loss of appetite
- unusual tiredness or weakness
- painful, swollen joints
- ringing in ears and difficulty hearing
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms or those listed in the WARNING section, call your doctor immediately:
- fever, chills, sore throat, ongoing cough, and congestion, or other signs of an infection
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- bloody or black, tarry stools
- bloody vomit
- vomited material that looks like coffee grounds
- bleeding gums
- small, round, red, or purple colored spots on the skin
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
- numbness or tingling in your hands or feet
- irregular heartbeat
- Mechlorethamine may increase the risk that you will develop other cancers. Talk to your doctor about the risks of receiving mechlorethamine.
Mechlorethamine may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.
Warnings & Precautions
Before receiving mechlorethamine:
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to mechlorethamine, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in mechlorethamine injection. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take.
- tell your doctor if you have an infection. Your doctor may not want you to receive mechlorethamine.
- tell your doctor if you have previously received or will be receiving radiation (x-ray) therapy or other chemotherapy and if you have or have ever had any medical conditions..
- you should know that mechlorethamine may interfere with the normal menstrual cycle (period) in women, may stop sperm production in men, and may cause infertility (difficulty becoming pregnant). However, you should not assume that you or your partner cannot become pregnant. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. You should not become pregnant or breast-feed while you are receiving mechlorethamine injection. Mechlorethamine may harm the fetus.
Mechlorethamine comes as a powder to be mixed with liquid to be injected intravenously (into a vein) by a doctor or nurse in a medical facility. It may also be injected intraperitoneally (into the abdominal cavity), intrapleurally (into the chest cavity), or intrapericardially (into the lining of the heart). The length of treatment depends on the types of drugs you are taking, how well your body responds to them, and the type of cancer or condition you have.
Ask your pharmacist or doctor for a copy of the manufacturer’s information for the patient.
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain lab tests to check your body’s response to mechlorethamine.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
All information has been provided courtesy of MedLinePlus from the National Library of Medicine and from the FDA.