Carmustine (patient information)
Carmustine can cause a decrease in the number of blood cells in your bone marrow. Carmustine also can cause lung damage, even years after treatment. The lung damage can cause death, especially in patients treated with carmustine as children.
If you experience the following symptom, call your doctor immediately: cough or shortness of breath.
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order tests before, during, and after your treatment to see if your blood cells are affected by this drug. Talk to your doctor about the risks of taking carmustine.
About your treatment
Your doctor has ordered the drug carmustine to help treat your illness. The drug is given by injection into a vein.
This medication is used to treat:
- brain tumors
- multiple myeloma
- Hodgkin's disease
- non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Carmustine is in a class of drugs known as alkylating agents; it slows or stops the growth of cancer cells in your body. The length of treatment depends on the types of drugs you are taking, how well your body responds to them, and the type of cancer you have.
Other uses for this medicine
Carmustine is also used to treat malignant melanoma, breast cancer, gastrointestinal cancers, Ewing's sarcoma, and Burkitt's lymphoma. Carmustine has been applied topically to the skin to treat mycosis fungoides. Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using this drug for your condition.
Before taking carmustine:
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to carmustine or any other drugs.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking, especially aspirin, cimetidine (Tagamet), digoxin (Lanoxin), phenytoin (Dilantin), and vitamins.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had kidney, liver, or lung disease.
- you should know that carmustine may interfere with the normal menstrual cycle (period) in women and may stop sperm production in men. However, you should not assume that you cannot get pregnant or that you cannot get someone else pregnant. Women who are pregnant should tell their doctors before they begin taking this drug. You should not plan to have children while receiving chemotherapy or for a while after treatments. (Talk to your doctor for further details.) Use a reliable method of birth control to prevent pregnancy. Carmustine may harm the fetus.
- tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding. Because of the danger of serious side effects to your baby, you should stop nursing while taking carmustine.
- do not have any vaccinations (e.g., measles or flu shots) without talking to your doctor.
Minor side effects
Side effects from carmustine are common and include:
- loss of appetite or weight
Tell your doctor if the following symptom is severe or lasts for several hours:
- fatigue or weakness
Severe side effects
If you experience any of the following symptoms or those listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section, call your doctor immediately:
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- redness, pain, or swelling at the injection site
- persistent diarrhea or any change in normal bowel habits for more than 2 days
- changes in vision
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online [at http://www.fda.gov/MedWatch/report.htm] or by phone [1-800-332-1088].
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.
- Gliadel® Wafer
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