Mechlorethamine must be handled and used very carefully. Direct contact with the skin, nose, mouth, or eyes may cause severe damage. Precautions (e.g., wearing a mask/outer garment/gloves) should be taken to prevent direct contact or breathing the dust/vapors from this medication.
Mechlorethamine is usually given by injection into a vein. If this medication accidentally leaks into the skin/muscle around the injection site, it may cause severe damage. Tell your doctor immediately if you notice hardening/peeling of the skin, redness, pain, or swelling at or near the injection site. Prompt treatment (e.g., ice compress, thiosulfate solution) may lessen damage.Who should not take mechlorethamine injection?
This medication is usually given by injection into a vein by a health care professional, as directed by your doctor. It may also be given by placing within certain parts of the body (e.g., chest, abdomen) or applying to the skin (for certain skin conditions). Dosage is based on your medical condition, body size, and response to treatment.
If this medication touches your skin, immediately remove any clothing/shoes that may have been in contact with the medication, and wash the area well with water for at least 15 minutes. Then apply a certain solution (thiosulfate) to help reduce skin damage. If this medication gets in your eye, open the eyelid and flush well with water or balanced salt solution for 15 minutes, then seek immediate medical attention.
Drink plenty of fluids while using this medication unless otherwise directed by your doctor. Doing so may help decrease the risk of certain side effects (e.g., increased uric acid).
See also Warning section.
Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, headache, confusion, drowsiness, metallic taste in the mouth, or weakness may occur. Nausea and vomiting can be severe. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe medication to prevent or relieve nausea and vomiting. Eating several small meals, not eating before treatment, or limiting activity may help lessen some of these effects. If these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
Severe nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may infrequently result in a loss of too much body water (dehydration). Contact your doctor promptly if you notice any symptoms of dehydration such as unusual decreased urination, unusual dry mouth/increased thirst, lack of tears, dizziness/lightheadedness, or pale/wrinkled skin.
Temporary hair loss may occur. Normal hair growth should return after treatment has ended.
Many people using this medication have serious side effects. However, your doctor has prescribed this drug because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Careful monitoring by your doctor may decrease your risk.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: hearing changes (decreased hearing, ringing in ears), menstrual changes (e.g., stopped periods), numbness/tingling, unusual bleeding/bruising (e.g., small red spots on the skin, black/bloody stools, bloody urine, vomit that looks like coffee grounds), urination changes (e.g., decreased/painful urination).
This medication can lower the body's ability to fight an infection. Tell your doctor promptly if you develop any signs of an infection such as fever, chills, or persistent sore throat.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any of the following symptoms of a serious allergic reaction: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
In the US -
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Before receiving mechlorethamine, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: blood/bleeding disorders (e.g., anemia, low blood cell counts), gout, current infection, kidney disease, liver disease, radiation treatment.
Do not have immunizations/vaccinations without the consent of your doctor, and avoid contact with people who have recently received oral polio vaccine or flu vaccine inhaled through the nose. Wash your hands well to prevent the spread of infections.
To lower your risk of getting cut, bruised, or injured, use caution with sharp objects like razors and nail cutters, and avoid activities such as contact sports.
Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist that you are using this medication.
This drug may make you drowsy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do any activity that requires alertness until you are sure you can perform such activities safely. Limit alcoholic beverages.
Very rarely, people with cancer who are treated with this type of medication have developed other cancers (e.g., secondary tumor). The risk may be increased when this medication is given with certain other anti-cancer drugs (especially in high doses) or radiation treatment. Consult your doctor for more details.
This medication may affect the production of sperm, increasing the risk of fathering a child with birth defects. Therefore, men receiving treatment with this drug should use reliable forms of birth control (e.g., condoms). Consult your doctor for details and to discuss effective forms of birth control.
This medication is not recommended for use during pregnancy. It may harm an unborn baby. If you become pregnant or think you may be pregnant, tell your doctor immediately. To avoid pregnancy, both males and females using this drug should use reliable form(s) of birth control (e.g., birth control pills, condoms) during treatment. Consult your doctor for details and to discuss effective forms of birth control.
It is not known whether this drug passes into breast milk. Because of the possible risk to the infant, breast-feeding while using this drug is not recommended. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.
Some products that may interact with this drug include: other anti-cancer drugs, nalidixic acid.
A certain spice (turmeric) may decrease the effect of mechlorethamine. Avoid using turmeric in your diet while receiving treatment with this medication. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.
If overdose is suspected, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center.
Laboratory and/or medical tests (e.g., complete blood counts, kidney/liver function tests) should be performed periodically to monitor your progress or check for side effects. Consult your doctor for more details.
For the best possible benefit, it is important to receive each scheduled dose of this medication as directed. If you miss a dose, contact your doctor to establish a new dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.
Not applicable. This medication is given in a clinic and will not be stored at home.
MEDICAL ALERT: Your condition can cause complications in a medical emergency. For information about enrolling in MedicAlert, call 1-888-633-4298 (US) or 1-800-668-1507 (Canada).
Information last revised March 2013. Copyright(c) 2013 First Databank, Inc.
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