Generic name: carmustine (kar-MUS-teen)
Drug class: Alkylating agents
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on May 16, 2021.
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
Available Dosage Forms:
Therapeutic Class: Antineoplastic Agent
Pharmacologic Class: Alkylating Agent
Chemical Class: Nitrosourea
Uses for carmustine
Carmustine implant is used together with surgery and radiation to treat newly-diagnosed high-grade glioma. It is also used together with surgery to treat glioblastoma that has come back (recurrent). These are types of brain cancer.
Carmustine belongs to the group of cancer medicines known as alkylating agents. It interferes with the growth of cancer cells, which are eventually destroyed.
Carmustine is to be given only by your doctor.
Before using carmustine
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For carmustine, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to carmustine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of carmustine implant in the pediatric population. Safety and efficacy have not been established.
Although appropriate studies on the relationship of age to the effects of carmustine implant have not been performed in the geriatric population, no geriatric-specific problems have been documented to date.
There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.
Interactions with medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are receiving carmustine, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using carmustine with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication or change some of the other medicines you take.
- Measles Virus Vaccine, Live
- Mumps Virus Vaccine, Live
- Rotavirus Vaccine, Live
- Rubella Virus Vaccine, Live
- Varicella Virus Vaccine, Live
- Zoster Vaccine, Live
Using carmustine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
- Adenovirus Vaccine
- Bacillus of Calmette and Guerin Vaccine, Live
- Cholera Vaccine, Live
- Dengue Tetravalent Vaccine, Live
- Influenza Virus Vaccine, Live
- Poliovirus Vaccine, Live
- Smallpox Vaccine
- Typhoid Vaccine, Live
- Yellow Fever Vaccine
Interactions with food/tobacco/alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other medical problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of carmustine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Intracranial hypertension (increased pressure in the head) or
- Seizures—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
Proper use of carmustine
Medicines used to treat cancer are very strong and can have many side effects. Before receiving carmustine, make sure you understand all the risks and benefits. It is important for you to work closely with your doctor during your treatment.
Your doctor will place carmustine in your brain during a surgical procedure. It is in the form of a small, round wafer. The wafer will dissolve and slowly release the medicine in the tumor.
Precautions while using carmustine
It is important that your doctor check your progress closely while you are receiving carmustine. This will allow your doctor to see if the medicine is working properly and to check for unwanted effects.
Receiving carmustine while you are pregnant can harm your unborn baby. It may also cause birth defects if the father is receiving it when his sexual partner becomes pregnant. Female patients should use an effective form of birth control for 6 months to keep from getting pregnant after receiving the medicine. Male patients who have female partners should use effective birth control for 3 months after implantation with carmustine. If you think you have become pregnant following implantation of carmustine, tell your doctor right away.
Carmustine may cause seizures after the surgical procedure. Call your doctor if you have symptoms of seizures after receiving carmustine.
Carmustine may cause an increased pressure in the head (intracranial hypertension). Tell your doctor right away if you have a severe headache, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, or any change in vision after receiving the implant.
Carmustine may cause a brain infection called meningitis. Tell your doctor right away if you have a severe headache, confusion, drowsiness, nausea, a general feeling of illness, or a stiff neck.
Some men receiving carmustine have become infertile (unable to have children). If you plan to have children, talk to your doctor before receiving carmustine.
Carmustine side effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor or nurse immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
- Blurred vision
- change in ability to see colors, especially blue or yellow
- problems with movement, walking, or speech
- trouble healing
- Change in personality
- general feeling of illness
- severe headache
- stiff neck or back
Some side effects 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:
- Back pain
- bladder pain
- bloody or cloudy urine
- difficult, burning, or painful urination
- difficulty having a bowel movement
- feeling sad or empty
- frequent urge to urinate
- lack of appetite
- lack or loss of strength
- loss of interest or pleasure
- lower back or side pain
- stomach pain
- trouble concentrating
- trouble sleeping
- Chest pain
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
More about carmustine
- Side Effects
- During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding
- Dosage Information
- Drug Interactions
- En Español
- Drug class: alkylating agents
- Drug Information
- Carmustine Intravenous (Advanced Reading)
- Carmustine Injection
- Carmustine Intracranial Implant
Related treatment guides
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.