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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Bleomycin (Blenoxane®)


Brand Name: Blenoxane®

Bleomycin is used in the treatment of cancers of the head and neck, penis, testicles, cervix and vulva.

Bleomycin is a type of chemotherapy drug. Specifically, it belongs to a class of drugs called anti-tumor antibiotics. These drugs come from a species of the soil fungus Streptomyces. Bleomycin stops or slows the growth of cancer cells by interfering with various phases of cell growth and reproduction process.

This medication is given as an injection into a vein (intravenous) or muscle (intramuscular), or under the skin (subcutaneous). Bleomycin may also be injected directly into the pleural cavity (the space between the lung lining and the chest wall), when used in the treatment of malignant pleural effusion, a build-up of fluid in this cavity. The exact dose and schedule of treatment depends on the type of cancer being treated, how well the cancer is responding to the drug, height, weight, general health, and several other factors. Your doctor will determine the approach that is best for you.

Bleomycin side effects

To prevent problematic interactions between bleomycin and other drugs, be sure to tell your doctor if you are allergic to any medications, and what other medications and supplements you are currently taking. You should also inform your doctor if you have or ever had liver tumor, liver disease, kidney disease, are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

Possible side effects of bleomycin may include:

  • Redness, blistering, tenderness, or thickening of the skin
  • Darkened skin color
  • Rash
  • Hair loss
  • Sores on the mouth or tongue
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss

Some bleomycin’s side effects can be serious. Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm, or leg on one side of body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding
  • Sudden dizziness, loss of balance, or loss of coordination
  • Sudden severe headache
  • Chest pain
  • Decreased urination

Please note that this is not a comprehensive list. Patients may experience additional effects not mentioned above.

At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), your team of cancer experts will explain each of the side effects of bleomycin with you in detail, as well as the side effects and expectations of all other medications planned as part of your individualized treatment plan.

Bleomycin for cancer treatment

Bleomycin is approved by the FDA for the treatment of:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma, including head and neck (mouth, tongue, tonsil, nasopharynx, oropharynx, sinus, palate, lip,buccal mucosa, gingivae, epiglottis, skin, larynx), penis, cervix and vulva
  • Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Testicular carcinoma of the following subtypes: embryonal cell, choriocarcinoma, teratocarcinoma
  • Malignant pleural effusion, or for the prevention of recurrent pleural effusions

At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), our integrative approach to cancer treatment works to fight your disease on all fronts and ensures that you remain at the center of everything we do. We encourage participation from both you and your family to make certain you are comfortable with all decisions made regarding your treatment.

The information provided here is for educational purposes only. In no way should it be considered as offering medical advice. Cancer Treatment Centers of America assumes no responsibility for how this material is used. Please check with a physician if you suspect you are ill. Also note that while Cancer Treatment Centers of America frequently updates its contents, medical information changes rapidly. Therefore, some information may be out of date.