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Bleomycin

Generic Name: bleomycin (BLEE oh MYE sin)
Brand Name: Bleo 15k, Blenoxane
Physician reviewed bleomycin patient information - includes bleomycin description, dosage and directions.
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Drug Information:
Bleomycin is a cancer medicine that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body. Bleomycin is used to treat squamous cell carcinoma, a skin cancer that can affect the mouth, throat, nose and sinuses, penis, vagina, cervix, and other. Bleomycin is also used to treat Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, testicular cancer, and malignant pleural effusion (a build-up of fluid in the outer tissues of the lungs, caused by certain types of cancer). Bleomycin treats only the symptoms of these conditions but does not treat cancer itself. Learn more

Bleomycin Side Effects

Bleomycin Side Effects

In Summary

Commonly reported side effects of bleomycin include: pulmonary toxicity. See below for a comprehensive list of adverse effects.

For the Consumer

Applies to bleomycin: injection powder for solution

Warning

Injection route (Powder for Solution)

Pulmonary fibrosis is the most severe toxicity for bleomycin and its most frequent presentation is pneumonitis occasionally progressing to pulmonary fibrosis. Its occurrence is higher in elderly patients and in those receiving greater than 400 units total dose, but pulmonary toxicity has been observed in young patients and those treated with low doses. A severe idiosyncratic reaction consisting of hypotension, mental confusion, fever, chills, and wheezing has been reported in lymphoma patients treated with bleomycin.

Along with its needed effects, bleomycin may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Also, because of the way these medicines act on the body, there is a chance that they might cause other unwanted effects that may not occur until months or years after the medicine is used. These delayed effects may include certain types of cancer, such as leukemia. Discuss these possible effects with your doctor.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking bleomycin:

More common

  • Fever and chills (occurring within 3 to 6 hours after a dose)

Less common

  • Confusion
  • faintness
  • wheezing

Rare

  • Chest pain (sudden severe)
  • weakness in arms or legs (sudden)

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur while taking bleomycin:

More common

  • Cough
  • shortness of breath
  • sores in mouth and on lips

Some side effects of bleomycin may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common

  • Darkening or thickening of skin
  • dark stripes on skin
  • itching of skin
  • skin rash or colored bumps on fingertips, elbows, or palms
  • skin redness or tenderness
  • swelling of fingers
  • vomiting and loss of appetite

Less common

  • Changes in fingernails or toenails
  • weight loss

Bleomycin may cause a temporary loss of hair in some people. After treatment has ended, normal hair growth should return, although it may take several months.

Side effects that affect your lungs (for example, cough and shortness of breath) may be more likely to occur if you smoke.

After you stop using this medicine, it may still produce some side effects that need attention. During this period of time, check with your doctor immediately if you notice the following side effects:

  • Cough
  • shortness of breath

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to bleomycin: injectable powder for injection

Respiratory

Very common (10% or more): Interstitial pneumonia (10%), pulmonary fibrosis (10%)

Common (1% to 10%): Wheezing

Dermatologic

Very common (10% or more): Sclerosis of the skin (41%), pigmentation disorder (41%), alopecia (30%), nail deformation (11%), nail discoloration, skin hypertrophy, flagellate dermatitis

Common (1% to 10%): Rash, urticaria, exfoliative dermatitis

Skin toxicity is a relatively late manifestation, usually developing in the 2nd and 3rd week of treatment, after a cumulative dose of 150 to 200 units.

Gastrointestinal

Very common (10% or more): Nausea (15%), vomiting (15%), stomatitis (13%)

Common (1% to 10%): Angular cheilitis

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Diarrhea

Cardiovascular

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Shock, vein wall hypertrophy, venous stenosis

Frequency not reported: Myocardial infarction, hypotension, Raynaud's phenomenon, embolism, thrombosis, peripheral ischemia, cerebral infarction, chest pain

Other

Very common (10% or more): Fever/pyrexia (40%), malaise (16%)

Local

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Injection site induration

Frequency not reported: Injection site thrombosis (IV), injection site pain

Oncologic

The most frequent mutations produced in mammalian cells are large multilocus deletions, which probably arise by misrepair of (DNA) double strand breaks.

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Tumor pain

Hematologic

Common (1% to 10%): Hemorrhage

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Leucopenia

Frequency not reported: Pancytopenia, thrombocytopenia, anemia, neutropenia

Postmarketing reports:

Immunologic

Frequency not reported: Sepsis

Musculoskeletal

Very common (10% or more): Scleroderma, chills

Metabolic

Very common (10% or more): Anorexia (29%), weight loss (29%)

Psychiatric

Common (1% to 10%): Mental confusion

Genitourinary

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Oliguria, dysuria, pollakiuria, urinary retention, polyuria, feeling of residual urine

Hepatic

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Hepatocellular injury

Nervous system

Very common (10% or more): Rigors (40%)

Common (1% to 10%): Headache

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Dizziness

Editorial References and Review

Medically reviewed by USARx EDITORIAL TEAM Last updated on 1/1/2020.

Source: Drugs.com Bleomycin (www.drugs.com/mtm/bleomycin.html).