Alkeran Side Effects Center

Last updated on RxList: 2/8/2021
Alkeran Side Effects Center

Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

What Is Alkeran?

Alkeran (melphalan) is a drug prescribed for the treatment of multiple myeloma and ovarian cancer.

What Are Side Effects of Alkeran?

Side effects of Alkeran include:

  • weight loss,
  • loss of appetite,
  • weakness,
  • blistering skin or acne,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • diarrhea,
  • white patches or sores inside your mouth or on your lips,
  • temporary hair loss, or
  • skin itching and rash

Severe side effects of Alkeran may occur.

Dosage for Alkeran

Alkeran is available in 2 mg tablets and should be administered only by a physician qualified in chemotherapy treatment. The usual oral dose is 6 mg (3 tablets) daily. The entire daily dose may be given at one time. Alkernan should be administered in carefully adjusted dosage by or under the supervision of experienced physicians who are familiar with the drug's actions and possible complications of its use.

What Drugs, Substances, or Supplements Interact with Alkeran?

Alkeran may interact with "live" vaccines, cyclosporine, radiation therapy, steroids or other chemotherapy medicines. Tell your doctor all medications and supplements you use and all vaccines you recently received.

Alkeran During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Alkernan may cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman. If this drug is used during pregnancy, or if the patient becomes pregnant while taking this drug, the patient should be apprised of the potential hazard to the fetus. Women of child bearing potential should be advised to avoid becoming pregnant. It is not known whether this drug is excreted in human milk. Alkeran should not be given to nursing mothers and has not been approved for use in pediatric populations.

Additional Information

Our Alkeran (melphalan) Side Effects Drug Center provides a comprehensive view of available drug information on the potential side effects when taking this medication.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


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Alkeran Consumer Information

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Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives, itching, skin redness; blurred vision, feeling light-headed; fast heartbeats; trouble breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • low white blood cell counts--fever, chills, cough, pain or burning when you urinate.
  • low red blood cells (anemia)--pale skin, unusual tiredness, feeling light-headed or short of breath, cold hands and feet;
  • easy bruising, unusual bleeding, purple or red spots under your skin;
  • sores or white patches in or around your mouth, trouble swallowing or talking, dry mouth, bad breath, altered sense of taste;
  • severe ongoing nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea;
  • new or worsening cough, fever, trouble breathing;
  • unusual lumps or masses;
  • missed menstrual periods;
  • inflammation of your blood vessels--warmth or tingling, skin rash, fever, headache, body aches, night sweats, weight loss, feeling or weak or tired;
  • liver problems--loss of appetite, stomach pain (upper right side), dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes); or
  • low potassium level--leg cramps, constipation, irregular heartbeats, fluttering in your chest, increased thirst or urination, numbness or tingling, muscle weakness or limp feeling.

Common side effects may include:

  • low blood cell counts;
  • mouth sores;
  • tiredness;
  • low potassium levels; or
  • hair loss.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Read the entire detailed patient monograph for Alkeran (Melphalan)

Alkeran Professional Information



The most common side effect is bone marrow suppression leading to leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, and anemia. Although bone marrow suppression frequently occurs, it is usually reversible if melphalan is withdrawn early enough. However, irreversible bone marrow failure has been reported.


Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and oral ulceration occur. Hepatic disorders ranging from abnormal liver function tests to clinical manifestations such as hepatitis and jaundice have been reported.


Other reported adverse reactions include: pulmonary fibrosis (including fatal outcomes) and interstitial pneumonitis, skin hypersensitivity, maculopapular rashes, vasculitis, alopecia, and hemolytic anemia. Allergic reactions, including urticaria, edema, skin rashes, and rare anaphylaxis, have occurred after multiple courses of treatment. Cardiac arrest has also been reported rarely in association with such reports.

Read the entire FDA prescribing information for Alkeran (Melphalan)

© Alkeran Patient Information is supplied by Cerner Multum, Inc. and Alkeran Consumer information is supplied by First Databank, Inc., used under license and subject to their respective copyrights.

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