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What is Mechlorethamine?

By Eric Stolze
Updated May 17, 2024
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Mechlorethamine is a prescription drug that is sold under the Mustargen® brand name. This medication is an antineoplastic drug that is typically prescribed to treat several forms of cancer, including Hodgkin’s disease, as well as chronic lymphocytic leukemia, chronic myelocytic leukemia and lymphosarcoma. In some instances, doctors may treat blood disorders such as polycythemia vera with this drug, or they may apply it to the skin to treat psoriasis or mycosis fungoides. This drug may not be suitable for all patients, and some individuals have experienced allergic reactions or other side effects from this medication that usually require medical assistance.

Physicians typically administer mechlorethamine intravenously through an injection. In some cases, the drug may cause irritation in the tissues that surround the site of an injection. Some patients may experience a reduction in the number of red blood cells in their bloodstream while they use this medication. Frequent urination and the consumption of sufficient amounts of fluids may help to make this drug more effective.

In some instances, people have developed allergic reactions to mechlorethamine such as a closing of the throat, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. Some allergic reactions have resulted in hives on a patient’s skin. Other symptoms of an allergic reaction to this medication may include swelling of a patient’s face, tongue or lips.

Serious side effects of mechlorethamine may include black or tarry stools, bloody urine and a yellowing of the skin or eyes known as jaundice. Joint stiffness and pain that is similar to gout have been reported in some cases, and unusual bruising or bleeding may also occur. Some patients have noticed signs of an infection while they were treated with this drug, such as chills, fever or a sore throat. In some cases, people have also experienced less serious side effects such as mouth sores, diarrhea and a temporary loss of hair, as well as a decrease in appetite, vomiting or nausea. Sensations of spinning, as well as ringing in the ears and diminished hearing, have also been reported in some instances.

Doctors may adjust a patient’s dosage of mechlorethamine or provide special monitoring in cases where a patient has an active infection, has recently received a vaccination or has problems related to bone marrow. Physicians typically do not recommend this medication to pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers. Birth defects may occur in an unborn child whose mother has used this drug. In many cases, doctors recommend contraceptive measures for patients to help them avoid pregnancy while they use this medication. Some men may experience a decrease in sperm production while they are using this drug.

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