Brand Name: Blenoxane
Bleomycin is a chemotherapy drug that is administered for the treatment of several types of cancer, including squamous cell carcinomas, testicular cancer, head and neck cancers, and lymphomas. It works as an antineoplastic drug, meaning that it is a tumor antibiotic and is toxic to fast growing cells.
This drug is usually used in the treatment of Hodgkin’s Disease, though it is also used in Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphomas. It is commonly used in conjunction with other chemotherapy drugs in the following regimens:
- ABVD (adriamycin, bleomycin, vinblastine, dacarbazine)
- BEACOPP (bleomycin, etoposide, adriamycin, cytoxan, oncovin, prednisone, procarbazine)
MACOP-B (methotrexate, adriamycin, cytoxan, oncovin, prednisone, bleomycin)
- Stanford-V (adriamycin, mustargen, bleomycin, vinblastine, oncovin, etoposide, prednisone)
There are many different methods for administering bleomycin. The drug may be given through an IV drip, through injection into the muscle, or through a chest tube into the pleural cavity – the cavity that holds the lungs. The type of administration depends on the type of cancer, the location of tumors, and the symptoms that a patient experiences prior to treatment.
Common side effects include fever and chills, alopecia (hair loss), skin reactions (stretch marks, skin peeling, redness), and thickening of the nails.
Less common side effects include nausea, mouth sores, and weight loss due to low appetite.
The most serious side effect of bleomycin is lung damage, though this effect is rare. Doctors should test and monitor patient lung health during and after treatment. Other rare conditions include the development of Raynaud’s phenomenon (discoloration of the fingers and toes) or allergic reaction.
Talk to your doctor if you experience these or any other symptoms while undergoing chemotherapy.