Carmustine, also known and sold under the trade name of Bicnu, is a product which belongs to a group of drugs known as alkylating agents.
It is used in the treatment of different types of cancer, especially in the treatment of multiple myelomas, brain tumor, Hodgkin’s disease, and etc.
It is considered to work by stopping the growth process of the cancer cells and eventually destroying them.
This product is available in the form of a powder for a solution, and it is given intravenously by an injection.
2 What to Know Before Using
Before you agree to the treatment with this medication, it is important to get informed about the expected beneficial effects, as well as about the potential side effects and risks.
For the decision to be made, it is essential for the beneficial effects to outweigh the potential risks. This is a decision that you and your doctor, together, will have to make.
During the consultations, make sure to inform the doctor about:
Allergies – Inform the doctor about any allergic reaction to any kind of medication, prescribed or no prescribed. Also, inform the doctor about any allergic reaction to any specific kind of food, dye, fabric and etc.
Pediatric – There are no studies done that would confirm the safety of this medication to be used within pediatric patients. Safety is not guaranteed. Because of this, it should be used only in cases where the beneficial effects outweigh the potential risks.
Geriatric – There are no studies done that would confirm if there are any age-connected risks when this medication is used within geriatric patients. Safety is not guaranteed. Because of this, it should be used only in cases where the beneficial effects outweigh the potential risks.
Pregnancy – Inform the doctor if you are currently pregnant or have any plans about pregnancy in the near future. Proper studies done have confirmed that there is a risk when this medication is used during pregnancy. However, in life-threatening cases, if the beneficial effects outweigh the potential risks, this medication may be used.
Breastfeeding – Inform the doctor if you are currently breastfeeding. There are no studies that would confirm the safety of this medication to be used within nursing mothers.
It is unknown if this medication is extracted from the milk, and how would it affect the infant. Because of this, it should be used only in cases where the beneficial effects outweigh the potential risks.
Drug interactions – Inform the doctor if you are currently using any other medications, prescribed or no prescribed, even vitamins and herbal tea. This is important because certain medications should not be used in a combination with others.
However, sometimes the doctor may decide to use a certain type of a combination including two or more medications to treat your condition if he or she considers that combination to prove as beneficial regarding your condition.
Other interactions – Certain medications are not recommended to be taken with food, tobacco and alcohol. Because of this, it is important to get informed if there is a need for you to follow a specific kind of diet and discontinue your use of tobacco and/or alcohol during the treatment.
Other medical problems – Inform the doctor about your medical history, any other medical problems and conditions from the past or at the moment.
Especially inform the doctor if there are any of the following conditions present:
For proper use, follow the directions given by your doctor. This medication is in the form of a solution, given by an injection to one of the veins.
It is usually given by the doctor or by a healthcare professional at the hospital.
The dose is individual for every patient, prescribed by the doctor and based on your condition and the prognosis of the treatment. The medicine is usually given every 6 weeks.
In order to get the most beneficial effects from this medication, it is important to visit your doctor at the scheduled appointments to receive the following dose.
If you forget a dose, contact the doctor in order to establish a new schedule.
4 Precautions to Take
Visit your doctor at your scheduled appointments regularly in order to receive your dose of the medicine. At these appointments, the doctor will be able to track your condition and make any adjustments if necessary.
These adjustments may refer to the dose – e.g. the doctor may decide to increase or decrease the dose, or to the treatment itself – the doctor may decide to discontinue the treatment if there are any serious side effects present which would worsen your condition or if your condition does not improve.
Inform the doctor about any allergic reactions to any kind of medications, prescribed or no prescribed. This is important because certain medications may contain inactive substances that could cause certain interactions to occur.
Inform the doctor if you are currently pregnant. The doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication, due to the studies that have shown that there is a risk to the fetus when this medication is used during pregnancy.
If you have any plans about pregnancy, the doctor may advise you to start using a proven form of birth control to help prevent pregnancy during the treatment.
Inform the doctor if you are currently breastfeeding. The doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication, due to the lack of studies that would confirm the safety of this medication to be used in nursing mothers.
5 Potential Side Effects
Along with its needed beneficial effects, there are potential side effects which could occur. These side effects do not occur in all patients. Also, they could be mild or more serious.
However, it is essential to get informed about the potential side effects so that you would be able to notice their presence and inform the doctor as soon as possible for further directions.
Common side effects – nausea, vomiting, headache, flushing, or pain at injection site. These are not considered as serious side effects, however if their presence worsens or they persist, inform the doctor right away.
Serious side effects – dark urine, yellowing of the skin/eyes, severe abdominal/stomach pain, change in the amount of urine, fast heartbeat, or dizziness. These are serious side effects whose presence must be reported right away to the doctor.
A very serious allergic reaction to this medication is rare, but if you notice any of the following symptoms, inform the doctor as soon as possible – skin rash, itching/swelling of the hands/feet/face/tongue, trouble breathing, or severe dizziness.
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