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Medications and Drugs

Brand Names: BiCNU, Gliadel

Generic Name: carmustine (Pronunciation: kar MUS teen)

What is carmustine (BiCNU, Gliadel)?

Carmustine is a cancer medication that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.

Carmustine is used to treat brain tumors, Hodgkin's disease, multiple myeloma, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Carmustine is sometimes given with other cancer medications.

Carmustine may also be used for other purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What are the possible side effects of carmustine (BiCNU, Gliadel)?

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:

  • new or worsening cough, fever, trouble breathing;
  • feeling short of breath on exertion;
  • chest discomfort, dry cough or hack;
  • feeling weak or tired, loss of appetite, rapid weight loss;
  • fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms, sores in your mouth and throat;
  • easy bruising, unusual bleeding (nose, mouth, vagina, or rectum), purple or red pinpoint spots under your skin;
  • pale skin, feeling light-headed, rapid heart rate, trouble concentrating;
  • urinating less than usual or not at all;
  • drowsiness, confusion, mood changes, increased thirst, swelling, weight gain, feeling short of breath;
  • severe burning, irritation, or skin changes where the injection was given; or
  • redness of your eyes or skin and severe warmth or tingling under your skin (within 2 to 4 hours after your carmustine injection).

Less serious side effects may include:

  • nausea, vomiting;
  • headache; or
  • mild pain, swelling, redness, or darkened skin color where the injection was given.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What is the most important information I should know about carmustine (BiCNU, Gliadel)?

Do not use carmustine if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby.

You should not use this medication if you are allergic to carmustine.

Before receiving carmustine, tell your doctor if you have bone marrow suppression, liver or kidney disease, or a history of lung or breathing problems.

Carmustine is usually given once every 6 weeks. You may be given either a single injection or multiple injections over a 2-day period. Follow your doctor's dosing instructions very carefully.

Carmustine can cause nausea and vomiting that may last up to 6 hours after your injection.

Carmustine can lower blood cells that help your body fight infections. Your blood will need to be tested weekly for at least 6 weeks after you receive a dose of carmustine. Your kidneys, liver, and lung function may also need to be tested. Do not miss any follow-up visits to your doctor.

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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