Carmustine

Generic Name: carmustine (CAR-mus-teen)
Brand Name: BiCNU

Carmustine may cause severe bone marrow suppression, which may increase the risk of bleeding or severe infection in some patients. Lab tests, such as blood cell counts, should be performed weekly to monitor your progress or to check for side effects. Carmustine may also cause severe lung problems. Patients receiving a high dose of carmustine may be at greater risk of developing lung problems. Lung problems may occur years after treatment and may be fatal, especially in patients treated during childhood.


Carmustine is used for:

Treating brain tumors, cancer of the bone marrow, Hodgkin disease, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It may be used alone or in combination with other medicines. It may also be used to treat other conditions as determined by your doctor.

Carmustine is an antineoplastic. It works by blocking the growth of cancer cells.

Do NOT use carmustine if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in carmustine

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Slideshow: Flashback: FDA Drug Approvals 2013

Before using carmustine:

Some medical conditions may interact with carmustine. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you have an infection (shingles, chickenpox), bone marrow depression, lung problems, or kidney problems
  • if you are receiving radiation therapy
  • if you have a history of tobacco use

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with carmustine. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Cimetidine because the toxic effects of carmustine, such as bone marrow suppression, may be increased
  • Digoxin or hydantoins (eg, phenytoin) because the effectiveness of these medicines may be decreased

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if carmustine may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use carmustine:

Use carmustine as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Carmustine is usually administered as an injection at your doctor's office, hospital, or clinic. If you are using carmustine at home, carefully follow the injection procedures taught to you by your health care provider.
  • If carmustine contains particles or is discolored, or if the vial is cracked or damaged in any way, do not use it.
  • If nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite occurs, ask your doctor or pharmacist for ways to lessen these effects.
  • If carmustine accidentally spills on your skin, wash it off immediately with soap and water.
  • Keep this product, as well as syringes and needles, out of the reach of children and away from pets. Do not reuse needles, syringes, or other materials. Dispose of properly after use. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain local regulations for proper disposal.
  • If you miss a dose of carmustine, contact your doctor immediately.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use carmustine.

Important safety information:

  • Carmustine may reduce the number of clot-forming cells in the blood. To prevent bleeding, avoid situations in which bruising or injury may occur. Report any unusual bleeding, bruising, blood in stools, or dark, tarry stools to your doctor.
  • Carmustine may lower your body's ability to fight infection. Prevent infection by avoiding contact with people with colds or other infections. Notify your doctor of any signs of infection including fever, sore throat, rashes, or chills.
  • Check with your doctor before having any vaccinations while you are using carmustine.
  • Use of carmustine may increase your risk of developing another cancer. Discuss any questions or concerns with your doctor.
  • LAB TESTS, including blood cell counts, liver and kidney function tests, and lung function tests, may be performed to monitor your progress or to check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • Use carmustine with extreme caution in CHILDREN. Safety and effectiveness have not been confirmed.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: Carmustine has been shown to cause harm to the human fetus. Avoid becoming pregnant while you are using carmustine. If you think you may be pregnant, discuss with your doctor the benefits and risks of using carmustine during pregnancy. It is unknown if carmustine is excreted in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while taking carmustine.

Possible side effects of carmustine:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Flushing; headache; nausea; vomiting.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); bleeding problems; chest pain; chills; dark urine; decreased amount of urine produced; difficulty breathing; fast heartbeat; fever; pain, redness, swelling, or burning at the injection site; persistent cough; shortness of breath; sore throat; unusual bruising or bleeding; unusual tiredness or weakness; vision changes; yellowing of the skin or eyes.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately.

Proper storage of carmustine:

Store carmustine as directed on the prescription label. Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep carmustine out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about carmustine, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Carmustine is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take carmustine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about carmustine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to carmustine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using carmustine.

Issue Date: December 3, 2014
Database Edition 14.4.1.003
Copyright © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

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