Mechlorethamine

Important Information for Your Healthcare Provider

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to receiving this medication if you have:
 
  • Kidney disease, such as kidney failure (renal failure)
  • Liver disease, such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, or liver failure
  • An infection of any kind
  • A tumor that has spread to your bone marrow
  • Low levels of white blood cells
  • Anemia
  • Low levels of platelets
  • Had radiation treatment or previous chemotherapy
  • Gout
  • Any allergies, including to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
 
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
 
 
Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medications you are taking, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
 
(Click Precautions and Warnings With Mechlorethamine to learn more, including information on who should not receive the drug.)
 

How Does It Work?

Mechlorethamine is part of a group of medications called alkylating agents. In general, alkylating agents work by causing strands of DNA to bond to each other and become linked (this is known as "cross-linking"). The linked strands cannot uncoil and separate, which is necessary for the DNA to replicate. Because DNA replication is essential for cells to grow and multiply, alkylating agents like mechlorethamine prevent cell growth and multiplication, and may cause cell death.
 
While mechlorethamine can kill both healthy and cancerous cells, it has a greater effect on cells that are multiplying rapidly. Generally, cancer cells multiply more rapidly than healthy cells and are, therefore, more affected by the drug. However, some healthy cells also multiply rapidly, including blood cells, stomach and intestinal cells, and cells in the mouth and hair follicles. When healthy cells are destroyed by mechlorethamine, serious side effects can occur.
 
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