Skip to Content

Bleomycin

Generic Name: bleomycin (BLEE oh MYE sin)
Brand Name: Blenoxane, Bleo 15k
Dosage Forms: injectable powder for injection (15 units; 30 units)

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com on Dec 4, 2020. Written by Cerner Multum.

What is bleomycin?

Bleomycin is used to treat:

  • squamous cell carcinoma (a skin cancer that can affect the mouth, throat, nose and sinuses, penis, vagina, or cervix);

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

Warnings

While you are being treated with bleomycin, be sure you can get medical help quickly in case you have any serious side effects.

Call your doctor at once if you feel tired, light-headed, or short of breath, or if you have chest pain or discomfort, a dry cough, a decreased appetite, or weight loss.

Before taking this medicine

You should not be treated with bleomycin if you have ever had an allergic reaction to it.

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • lung disease or breathing problems;

  • kidney disease; or

  • liver disease.

Bleomycin may harm an unborn baby. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy, and tell your doctor if you become pregnant.

You should not breastfeed while using bleomycin.

How is bleomycin given?

Bleomycin is given as an injection into a muscle or under the skin, or as an infusion into a vein. When treating pleural effusion, bleomycin is given through a chest tube.

A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

Bleomycin is usually given once or twice per week, depending on the condition being treated. When given through a chest tube, bleomycin is usually given only once.

To make sure bleomycin is not causing harmful effects on your lungs, you may need to have chest X rays or other frequent lung function tests.

Your kidney function and liver function may also need to be checked.

If you need surgery, tell the surgeon ahead of time that you are being treated with bleomycin.

What happens if I miss a dose?

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

What happens if I overdose?

Since this medication is given by a healthcare professional in a medical setting, an overdose is unlikely to occur.

What should I avoid while receiving bleomycin?

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

Bleomycin side effects

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

Bleomycin can cause life-threatening breathing problems. While you are being treated with bleomycin, be sure you can get medical help quickly in case you have any serious side effects.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • sudden chest pain, shortness of breath, dry cough, tiredness;

  • a light-headed feeling, feeling like you might pass out;

  • loss of appetite, weight loss;

  • sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the body, problems with vision or speech;

  • blisters or ulcers in your mouth, red or swollen gums, trouble swallowing;

  • unusual hardening of your skin; or

  • swelling, numbness, tingling or cold feeling in your fingers.

Serious side effects may be more likely in older adults.

Common side effects may include:

  • skin redness, dark streaks, or discoloration;

  • fingernail or toenail changes;

  • fever, chills, vomiting, not feeling well;

  • rash, itching; or

  • hair loss.

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.

What other drugs will affect bleomycin?

Other drugs may affect bleomycin, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.

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.