People who have lung cancer or certain types of blood, bone marrow, or metastatic cancer may receive a chemotherapy drug called Mustargen. It works to kill cancer cells by interfering with the replication process of DNA. This drug is given slowly into a vein (an intravenous, or IV, infusion) or directly into a body cavity. Many people may experience side effects like nausea, weakness, and vomiting.
What Is Mustargen?Mustargen® (mechlorethamine) is a prescription medication that is part of a group of chemotherapy medicines known as alkylating agents. It is approved to treat certain types of cancer, including:
- Certain cancers of the blood and bone marrow, such as lymphoma and leukemia
- Lung cancer
- Metastatic cancer (cancer that has spread from its original site) that has caused an abnormal collection of fluid in the body cavities (effusion).
Mustargen is approved as palliative treatment. Palliative treatment is used to relieve symptoms of a condition and to reduce suffering; it does not cure the disease.
How Does Mustargen Work?Mustargen 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 Mustargen prevent cell growth and multiplication, and may cause cell death.
While Mustargen 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 Mustargen, serious side effects can occur.