Mesna (Generic Name)

Other Name: Mesnex

About This Drug

Mesna is a drug given in the vein (IV) or by mouth (orally). Mesna is given to prevent bladder irritation and bleeding that ifosfamide and high dose cyclophosphamide often cause. It can be given before, after, or with ifosfamide or high dose cyclophosphamide.

Possible Side Effects

  • Nausea and throwing up (vomiting). These symptoms may happen within a few hours after your treatment and may last up to 24 hours. Medicines are available to stop or lessen these side effects.
  • Flushing of your face, neck and chest
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Headache
  • Rash
  • Taste changes (the pill has a bad after-taste)
  • Decreased appetite (decreased hunger)
  • Passing gas
  • Constipation (not able to move bowels)
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea) that may last for a few days
  • Low or high blood pressure
  • Eye irritation.  You may have watery eyes.  Your eyes and eye lids may become red and they may hurt.
  • Flu-like symptoms: fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, and fatigue (low energy, feeling weak)
  • Soreness at the IV site

Allergic Reactions

  • While you are getting this drug in your vein (IV), you may have a reaction to the drug.  Your nurse will check you closely for these signs: fever or shaking chills, flushing, facial swelling, feeling dizzy, headache, trouble breathing, rash, itching, chest tightness, or chest pain. These reactions may happen for 24 hours after your infusion.  If this happens, call 911 for emergency care.
  • If you are taking the oral (pill, tablet, or capsule) form of mesna and you have these symptoms, do not take another dose of this drug. You should get urgent medical treatment.

Treating Side Effects

  • Drink 6-8 cups of fluids each day unless your doctor has told you to limit your fluid intake due to some other health problem. A cup is 8 ounces of fluid. If you throw up or have loose bowel movements you should drink more fluids so that you do not become dehydrated (lack water in the body due to losing too much fluid).
  • If you are dizzy, get up slowly after sitting or lying.
  • If you get a rash do not put anything on it unless your doctor or nurse says you may. Keep the area around the rash clean and dry. Ask your doctor for medicine if your rash bothers you.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse to prescribe medicines to stop or lessen nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, headache, joint pain, back pain, irritated eyes, and flu symptoms.

Food and Drug Interactions

There are no known interactions of mesna with food. This drug may interact with other medicines. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medicines and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs and others) that you are taking at this time. The safety and use of dietary supplements and alternative diets are often not known. Using these might affect your cancer or interfere with your treatment. Until more is known, you should not use dietary supplements or alternative diets without your cancer doctor's help.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or nurse right away if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.5 F (38 C) or higher
  • Chills
  • Easy bleeding or bruising
  • Wheezing or trouble breathing
  • Rash or itching
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Feeling that your heart is beating in a fast or not normal way (palpitations)
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea) more than 4 times a day or diarrhea with weakness or lightheadedness
  • Blurred vision or other changes in eyesight
  • Pain when passing urine; blood in urine
  • Pain in your lower back or side
  • Feeling confused or agitated
  • Nausea that stops you from eating or drinking
  • Throwing up more than 3 times a day
  • Chest pain or symptoms of a heart attack. Most heart attacks involve pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes. The pain may go away and come back. It can feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. Sometimes pain is felt in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach. If any of these symptoms last 2 minutes, call 911.
  • Symptoms of a stroke such as sudden numbness or weakness of your face, arm, or leg, mostly on one side of your body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, feeling dizzy, loss of balance or coordination; or sudden, bad headache with no known cause.  If you have any of these symptoms for 2 minutes, call 911. 
  • Signs of liver problems: dark urine, pale bowel movements, bad stomach pain, feeling very tired and weak, unusual itching, or yellowing of the eyes or skin

Call your nurse or doctor as soon as possible if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Change in hearing, ringing in the ears
  • Decreased urine
  • Unusual thirst or passing urine often
  • Pain in your mouth or throat that makes it hard to eat or drink
  • Nausea that is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • Rash that is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • Heavy menstrual period that lasts longer than normal
  • Numbness, tingling, decreased feeling or weakness in fingers, toes, arms, or legs
  • Trouble walking or changes in the way you walk, feeling clumsy when buttoning clothes, opening jars, or other routine hand motions
  • Swelling of legs, ankles, or feet
  • Weight gain of 5 pounds in one week (fluid retention)
  • Lasting loss of appetite or rapid weight loss of five pounds in a week
  • Fatigue that interferes with your daily activities
  • Headache that does not go away
  • Painful, red, or swollen areas on your hands or feet.
  • No bowel movement for 3 days or you feel uncomfortable
  • Extreme weakness that interferes with normal activities

Reproduction Concerns

  • Pregnancy warning: This drug is not expected to harm an unborn child.  Talk to your doctor about the use of this drug if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
  • Breast feeding warning: It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk.  For this reason, women should talk to their doctor about the risks and benefits of breast feeding during treatment with this drug because this drug may enter the breast milk and badly harm a breast feeding baby.

Revised November 2014

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