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BiCNU (injection/implant)

Generic name: carmustine (injection/implant) [ kar-MUS-teen ]
Brand names: BiCNU, Gliadel
Drug class: Alkylating agents

Medically reviewed by on Oct 18, 2023. Written by Cerner Multum.

What is BiCNU?

BiCNU is used in adults alone or in combination with other cancer treatments to treat brain tumors, Hodgkin's disease, multiple myeloma, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

BiCNU may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

BiCNU side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives, difficult breathing, swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Some side effects may occur during the injection. Tell your medical caregivers if you feel dizzy, nauseated, light-headed, itchy, sweaty, or have a headache, chest tightness, back pain, trouble breathing, or swelling in your face.

BiCNU can cause serious or fatal lung problems, even months or years after you've used BiCNU.

You may also bleed or get infections more easily, including serious or fatal infections. Call your doctor right away if you have:

Also call your doctor at once if you have:

Common side effects of BiCNU may include:

Your cancer treatments may be delayed or permanently discontinued if you have certain side effects.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


You may get infections or bleed more easily, including serious or fatal infections. Call your doctor if you have shortness of breath on exertion, chest discomfort, dry cough or hack, feeling weak or tired, rapid weight loss, unusual bleeding, fever, painful urination, night sweats, neck stiffness, confusion, or vision problems.

BiCNU can cause serious or fatal lung problems, even months or years after you've used this medicine.

Before taking this medicine

You should not be treated with BiCNU if you are allergic to it.

Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had:

Receiving BiCNU injection may increase your risk of developing other cancers. Ask your doctor about this risk.

BiCNU can harm an unborn baby if the mother or the father is using BiCNU.

It may be harder for you to get a woman pregnant while you are using this medicine. You should still use birth control to prevent pregnancy because the medicine can harm an unborn baby.

Do not breastfeed while receiving BiCNU, or for at least 7 days after this medicine implant placement.

How is BiCNU given?

BiCNU injection is given as an infusion into a vein, usually once every 6 weeks. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

You may be given other medications to help prevent serious side effects.

Tell your medical caregivers if you feel any burning or pain when BiCNU is injected.

BiCNU implant is placed in your brain after brain tumor removal surgery.

BiCNU can make it easier for you to bleed, even from a minor injury. Call your doctor if you have bleeding that will not stop. Bleeding may also happen inside your body, such as in your stomach or intestines, or in your brain.

You may get infections more easily, even serious or fatal infections. You will need frequent medical tests.

Your blood will also need to be tested weekly, for at least 6 weeks and your dose may be changed based on the results.

You may also need chest X rays or breathing tests.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Call your doctor for instructions if you miss an appointment for your BiCNU injection.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while receiving BiCNU?

Follow your doctor's instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity.

What other drugs will affect BiCNU?

Tell your doctor about all your other medicines, especially:

This list is not complete. Other drugs may affect BiCNU, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible drug interactions are listed here.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.