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Generic Name: carmustine (kar MUS teen)
Brand Name: BiCNU, Gliadel

Medically reviewed by on Sep 19, 2019 – Written by Cerner Multum

What is Gliadel?

Gliadel is a cancer medicine that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.

Gliadel is used to treat brain tumors, Hodgkin's disease, multiple myeloma, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Gliadel is sometimes given with other cancer medicines.

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

Important Information

Gliadel can lower blood cells that help your body fight infections and help your blood to clot. This medicine can also cause serious lung problems. You will need frequent medical tests while receiving Gliadel. Call your doctor if you have unusual bruising or bleeding, tiredness, weakness, or breathing problems.

Before taking this medicine

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

To make sure Gliadel is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • lung disease or breathing problems;

  • bone marrow suppression; or

  • kidney disease.

Gliadel may harm an unborn baby. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy while you are receiving this medicine.

It is not known whether carmustine passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while receiving this medicine.

How is Gliadel given?

Gliadel is injected into a vein through an IV. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

Gliadel is usually given once every 6 weeks. You may be given either a single injection, or multiple injections over a 2-day period. You may also be given medication to prevent nausea or vomiting. Follow your doctor's dosing instructions very carefully.

Tell your caregivers if you feel any burning or pain around the IV needle when Gliadel is injected.

Gliadel can lower blood cells that help your body fight infections and help your blood to clot. This medicine can also cause serious lung problems, especially if you receive high doses. You will need frequent medical tests to check your blood cells and lung function. Your cancer treatments may be delayed based on the results of these tests.

Gliadel can have long-lasting effects on your body. Your blood will need to be tested weekly for at least 6 weeks after each dose.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Call your doctor for instructions if you miss an appointment for your Gliadel.

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 Gliadel?

Gliadel can pass into body fluids (urine, feces, vomit). For at least 48 hours after you receive a dose, avoid allowing your body fluids to come into contact with your hands or other surfaces. Caregivers should wear rubber gloves while cleaning up a patient's body fluids, handling contaminated trash or laundry or changing diapers. Wash hands before and after removing gloves. Wash soiled clothing and linens separately from other laundry.

Gliadel 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.

You may have an infusion reaction during the injection or within 2 hours afterward. This may include eye redness, skin redness, and severe warmth or tingling under your skin.

Some side effects may not occur until 4 to 6 weeks after your Gliadel injection.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • easy bruising, unusual bleeding (may last for 1 or 2 weeks);

  • shortness of breath (especially with exertion);

  • a seizure (convulsions);

  • a dry cough or hack, rapid but shallow breathing;

  • unexplained weight loss;

  • tiredness, body aches;

  • clubbing (widening and rounding) of your fingertips or toes;

  • little or no urination; or

  • pain, burning, swelling, or skin changes where the injection was given.

Common side effects may include:

  • bleeding, bruising;

  • tiredness;

  • nausea, vomiting; or

  • breathing problems.

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 Gliadel?

Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using, especially:

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with carmustine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.

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.