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You have melphalan in the chemotherapy day unit or during a stay in hospital. A chemotherapy nurse will give it to you. During treatment, you usually see a cancer doctor, a chemotherapy nurse or a specialist nurse. This is who we mean when we mention doctor or nurse in this information. 

Before or on the day of treatment, a nurse or person trained to take blood (phlebotomist) will take a blood sample from you. This is to check that it is okay for you to have chemotherapy.

You will also see a doctor or nurse before you have chemotherapy. They will ask you   about how you have been. If your blood results are alright on the day of your treatment, the pharmacist will prepare your chemotherapy. Your nurse will tell you when your treatment is likely to be ready. 

Your nurse will give you anti-sickness drugs before you start. Melphalan is then given in one of the following ways:

  • through a short thin tube (cannula) that the nurse puts into a vein in your arm or hand

  • through a fine tube that goes under the skin of your chest and into a vein close by (central line)

  • through a fine tube that is put into a vein in your arm and goes up into a vein in your chest (PICC line)

  • as tablets

  • into an artery in the arm or leg.

When melphalan is given into an artery in the arm or leg, it is done under a general anaesthetic. The procedure is called isolated limb perfusion. We have separate information explaining how this is done and the side effects.

Your nurse can give you melphalan as a slow injection or drip (infusion) into your cannula or line. They usually run the drip through a pump, which gives you the treatment over a set time. You'll be given fluids through a drip before and during the melphalan injection.

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