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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Mesna (Mesnex®)


Brand Name: Mesnex®

Mesna is used to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy drugs.

Mesna is in a class of drugs known as chemoprotectants. Mesna works by protecting the body from some of the potentially serious side effects. For example, two chemotherapy drugs, ifosfamide and chemotherapy, produce a metabolite called acrolein when they break down inside the body. Acrolein is toxic to the bladder. Mesna binds to acrolein and inactivates it, which reduces or prevents problems to the bladder. Because this drug may also cause its own side effects, it is used only with certain chemotherapy drugs or when the benefits are certain to outweigh the risks.

This medication is given as an infusion into a vein (intravenous) with or after chemotherapy. Mesna may also be given as a pill to be taken by mouth. The exact amount of mesna given depends on several factors, including the type of chemotherapy being given, height, and weight. Your doctor will determine the approach that is best for you.

Mesna side effects

To prevent problematic interactions between mesna and other drugs, be sure to tell your doctor if you are allergic to any medications, and what other medications and supplements you are currently taking. You should also inform your doctor if you have or ever had liver tumor, liver disease, or kidney disease, are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding. It is generally recommended that women not become pregnant or breastfeed during treatment with mesna.

Possible side effects of mesna may include:

  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Diarrhea or soft stools
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Some of mesna’s side effects can be serious. Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Severe fatigue
  • Blood in the urine, or pain or burning during urination
  • Vomiting more than 4 or 5 times within 24 hours

Please note that this is not a comprehensive list. Patients may experience additional effects not mentioned above.

At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), your team of cancer experts will explain each of the side effects of mesna with you in detail, as well as the side effects and expectations of all other medications planned as part of your individualized treatment plan.

Mesna for cancer treatment

Mesna is approved by the FDA for the following:

  • Prevention of ifosfamide-induced hemorrhagic cystitis (syndrome of bleeding and irritation of the bladder)
  • Prevention of high-dose cyclophosphamide–induced hemorrhagic cystitis

At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), our integrative approach to cancer treatment works to fight your disease on all fronts and ensures that you remain at the center of everything we do. We encourage participation from both you and your family to make certain you are comfortable with all decisions made regarding your treatment.

The information provided here is for educational purposes only. In no way should it be considered as offering medical advice. Cancer Treatment Centers of America assumes no responsibility for how this material is used. Please check with a physician if you suspect you are ill. Also note that while Cancer Treatment Centers of America frequently updates its contents, medical information changes rapidly. Therefore, some information may be out of date.