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BiCNU

BiCNU

SIDE EFFECTS

Pulmonary Toxicity

Pulmonary toxicity characterized by pulmonary infiltrates and/or fibrosis has been reported to occur from 9 days to 43 months after treatment with BiCNU (carmustine) and related nitrosoureas. Most of these patients were receiving prolonged therapy with total doses of BiCNU (carmustine) greater than 1400 mg/m2. However, there have been reports of pulmonary fibrosis in patients receiving lower total doses. Other risk factors include past history of lung disease and duration of treatment. Cases of fatal pulmonary toxicity with BiCNU (carmustine) have been reported.

Additionally, delayed onset pulmonary fibrosis occurring up to 17 years after treatment has been reported in a long-term study with 17 patients who received BiCNU (carmustine) in childhood and earlyadolescence (1-16 years) in cumulative doses ranging from 770 to 1800 mg/m2 combined with cranial radiotherapy for intracranial tumors. Chest x-rays demonstrated pulmonary hypoplasia with upper zone contraction. Gallium scans were normal in all cases. Thoracic CT scans have demonstrated an unusual pattern of upper zone fibrosis. There was some late reduction of pulmonary function in all long-term survivors. This form of lung fibrosis may be slowly progressive and has resulted in death in some cases. In this long-term study, 8 of 17 died of delayed pulmonary lung fibrosis, including all those initially treated (5 of 17) at less than 5 years of age.

Hematologic Toxicity

A frequent and serious toxicity of BiCNU (carmustine) is delayed myelosuppression. It usually occurs 4 to 6 weeks after drug administration and is dose related. Thrombocytopenia occurs at about 4 weeks postadministration and persists for 1 to 2 weeks. Leukopenia occurs at 5 to 6 weeks after a dose of BiCNU (carmustine) and persists for 1 to 2 weeks. Thrombocytopenia is generally more severe than leukopenia. However, both may be dose-limiting toxicities.

BiCNU (carmustine) may produce cumulative myelosuppression, manifested by more depressed indices or longer duration of suppression after repeated doses.

The occurrence of acute leukemia and bone marrow dysplasias have been reported in patients following long-term nitrosourea therapy.

Anemia also occurs, but is less frequent and less severe than thrombocytopenia or leukopenia.

Greater myelotoxicity (e.g., leukopenia and neutropenia) has been reported when carmustine was combined with cimetidine (see PRECAUTIONS: DRUG INTERACTIONS).

Gastrointestinal Toxicity

Nausea and vomiting after IV administration of BiCNU (carmustine) are noted frequently. This toxicity appears within 2 hours of dosing, usually lasting 4 to 6 hours, and is dose related. Prior administration of antiemetics is effective in diminishing and sometimes preventing this side effect.

Hepatotoxicity

A reversible type of hepatic toxicity, manifested by increased transaminase, alkaline phosphatase and bilirubin levels, has been reported in a small percentage of patients receiving BiCNU (carmustine) .

Nephrotoxicity

Renal abnormalities consisting of progressive azotemia, decrease in kidney size and renal failure have been reported in patients who received large cumulative doses after prolonged therapy with BiCNU (carmustine) and related nitrosoureas. Kidney damage has also been reported occasionally in patients receiving lower total doses.

Other Toxicities

Accidental contact of reconstituted BiCNU (carmustine) with skin has caused burning and hyperpigmentation of the affected areas.

Rapid IV infusion of BiCNU (carmustine for injection) may produce intensive flushing of the skin and suffusion of the conjunctiva within 2 hours, lasting about 4 hours. It is also associated with burning at the site of injection although true thrombosis is rare.

Neuroretinitis, chest pain, headache, allergic reaction, hypotension and tachycardia have been reported as part of ongoing surveillance.

Read the BiCNU (carmustine) Side Effects Center for a complete guide to possible side effects

DRUG INTERACTIONS

Greater myelotoxicity (e.g., leukopenia and neutropenia) have been reported when carmustine was combined with cimetidine (see ADVERSE REACTIONS: Hematologic Toxicity).

Read the BiCNU Drug Interactions Center for a complete guide to possible interactions

Last reviewed on RxList: 5/5/2011
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

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