This leaflet provides information on a treatment known as mifamurtide. It will explain what this is, when and how it will be given. It will also tell you about common side effects that you may experience. Contact telephone numbers and details of how to obtain further information on this treatment are given at the end of the leaflet.
What is mifamurtide?
Mifamurtide is not chemotherapy. It is a type of treatment known as immunotherapy it works by helping your own immune system kill the cancer cells.
Why am I having this treatment?
Your doctor has prescribed this treatment because it has been found to be effective in treating your type of cancer. It can also reduce the risk of cancer coming back.
How often will I receive this treatment?
For the treatment to be most effective it is usually given twice weekly for the first 12 weeks followed by once a week for the next 24 weeks, a total of 36 weeks. Your doctor will discuss with you how long you will have your treatment for.
This treatment is given with chemotherapy treatment. We will give you a separate information leaflet which tells you more about your chemotherapy.
How will my treatment be given?
To receive your treatment you will need to have a fine tube put into a large vein in your upper arm. This tube is called a PICC line. Your PICC line is usually put in about a week before you start your treatment. It will stay in for the whole course of your treatment. Your doctor will explain this to you in more detail. We also have a leaflet that tells you more about PICC lines.
How long will my treatment take?
You should be prepared to spend up to 2 hours in one of the day units at Velindre hospital for each treatment. Please allow longer for your first treatment as we will need to observe you for about an hour after your first treatment.
You are welcome to bring someone to stay with you during your treatment. Space is limited in the waiting areas and treatment room so there is not usually room for more than one person. Treatment areas are not suitable for young children.
How often will I see the specialist team?
You will usually see the specialist team every 3 - 4 weeks. Your team will let you know how often they will see you. You will have regular blood tests and we will check how you are feeling and discuss any problems you may have. This is so we can check how the treatment is affecting you.
Possible side effects:
Fever, chills and flu like symptoms
Most patients will experience flu like symptoms in the first few hours after treatment. These symptoms include a fever, muscle aches and chills. This can be treated with paracetamol and should not last more than a few hours. Following your first treatment we will observe you closely to see whether you are affected by the treatment.
If these symptoms do not settle within 8 hours of your mifamurtide you must contact Velindre hospital immediately. The telephone number is at the end of the leaflet.
Risk of infection:
You are at an increased risk of picking up infections because your white blood cells which help fight infections can be reduced by this treatment.
If you develop an infection whilst your white blood cells are low, you are at risk of sepsis, this can be life threatening.
Contact Velindre Cancer Centre immediately if you develop any signs of infection, for example flu like symptoms or a temperature above 37.5°centigrade or if your temperature is below 35.5°. The telephone number is at the end of the leaflet.
Sometimes Mifamurtide can cause anaemia. You will have regular blood tests to monitor for this.
Risk of bruising/bleeding:
Mifamurtide sometimes reduces the production of platelets (which help the blood to clot). This will increase your risk of bruising or bleeding. If you notice any excessive bruising on your body or bleeding such as nosebleeds or bleeding from your gums you should contact Velindre Cancer Centre for advice. The telephone number is at the end of the leaflet.
Tiredness and fatigue
Most patients will feel more tired than usual. It is important to listen to your body and rest if you need to, but carry out your normal activities if you feel able. Some people find it beneficial to take gentle exercise as well as rest.
Nausea and vomiting / loss of appetite
Some patients experience loss of appetite or nausea/vomiting with Mifamurtide. Nausea and vomiting are uncommon these days as we will give you anti-sickness medicines which are usually extremely effective. However, if you are sick more than once in 24 hours despite taking regular anti-sickness medicine, contact Velindre Cancer Centre for advice. The telephone number is at the end of the leaflet.
Headaches/dizziness/vertigo/ altered blood pressure
You may get headaches whilst on this treatment. Try taking paracetamol. If this does not work please contact Velindre Cancer Centre for advice. Mifamurtide can also cause dizziness and vertigo. Avoid driving if you experience dizziness. Mifamurtide can cause a low or high blood pressure .Inform your team when in clinic if you experience these symptoms.
Shortness of breath/cough
Some people on this treatment may experience shortness of breath, chest discomfort or a cough. This may be worse if you suffer from asthma or other chest conditions. If this occurs please contact Velindre Cancer Centre for advice.
Effects on your bowels
This treatment has been known to cause either constipation or diarrhoea.
Some patients experience indigestion and/or upper abdominal pain, if this causes you problems, ring Velindre Cancer Centre, and inform when next in clinic.
Other side effects:
You may experience the following:
Inform your team when in clinic if you experience these symptoms.
It is important you do not become pregnant or father a child whilst having this treatment as it could damage the unborn baby.
Is it alright to take other medicines with mifamurtide?
Please tell your doctor, nurse or pharmacist if you take other medicines. There are a small number of medicines that you may have to avoid. It is important that you should not take steroid tablets and you should also avoid anti-inflammatory pain killers such as Ibuprofen and Diclofenac (Voltarol)
Sometimes cancer drugs can have very serious side effects which rarely can be life threatening. It is important to inform Velindre cancer centre if you are concerned about any side-effects.
A diagnosis of cancer can increase your risk of developing a blood clot (thrombosis), and having cancer treatment may increase this risk further. It is important to tell your doctor immediately if you have symptoms such as pain, redness and swelling in your leg, or breathlessness and chest pain.
Blood clots can be very serious. However, most clots can usually be successfully treated with drugs to thin the blood. Your doctor or nurse can give you more information
Manufacturer’s patient information leaflets
Velindre leaflets provide information about very common and commonly reported side-effects (we are unable to list all of the common side effects), for more information regarding these and the less common side-effects please refer to the manufacturers patient information leaflets, obtained from Velindre pharmacy and/or on the internet at www.medicines.org.uk. Sometimes patients may find these leaflets difficult to read however. Please ask if you would like a copy from your doctor or from Velindre pharmacy
Contact telephone numbers
Velindre Cancer Centre 029 2061 5888
Ask for the treatment helpline if you are unwell at home and need immediate advice at any time of the day or night. For example you should phone if you:
Pharmacy department 029 2061 5888 ext 6223
Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm for queries about your medicines
Tenovus freephone 0808 808 1010
cancer support line
Macmillan freephone Helpline 0808 808 0000
This leaflet was written by health professionals. The information contained in this leaflet is evidence based. It has been approved by doctors, nurses and patients. It is reviewed and updated every 2 years.
Prepared October 2012,
Updated 2014, October 2018