Carmustine (BCNU)

Carmustine (BCNU)

This patient-friendly article is about chemotherapy drug, Carmustine (BCNU) which is used for brain tumours, multiple myeloma, Hodgkins disease, non-Hodgkins lymphomas, melanoma, lung cancer, colon cancer). A cytotoxic drug, it acts as an alkylating agent. In animal models, is most effective when administered by daily injection but may be given orally. However the US National Cancer Institute lists an emergency overview stating that the drug can cause severe damage if taken orally. In the USA it is rated as ’Highly toxic may cause cancer, inheritable genetic defects and infertility’. Animal toxicology studies have shown that the most dramatic and consistent toxicities involve the bone marrow, lymphoid tissue, liver, kidney, and gastrointestinal tract. Pulmonary damage can occur with prolonged usage, and even second cancers.

It has been shown in clinical trials to cross the blood brain barrier. Alkylating agents can attack cancer cells even if they are not dividing. Carmustine’s development includes its use with Gliadel (dissolving) wafers, which can be put directly on a brain tumour during surgery.

Side effects can include: nausea and vomiting; facial flushing; pain or burning at the injection site and low blood counts with concomitant risk of infection.

Approved by

the Medical Board. 

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Go to: 10 ways to improve your chemotherapy success and reduce side-effects

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Go to: Return to the CANCERactive drug list

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