What is Bleomycin?

Bleomycin (Blenoxane) is an antibiotic chemotherapy medication that is used to treat head and neck cancers, Hodgkin lymphoma, malignant pleural effusions, and testicular cancer. It can also be used in ovarian cancer; however, this is an off-label non-FDA approved indication. Bleomycin inhibits the formation of DNA, RNA and protein synthesis. These are considered the “building blocks” of life; through the inhibition of these pathways, cells cannot replicate.

How it is administered:

Bleomycin is administered intravenously most commonly as a “push.” It is not diluted into a bag of solution prior to administration but injected into the blood stream directly. This typically takes 10 minutes. It can cause some irritation during the administration. This medication can also be administered as an intramuscular as well as an intrapleural injection.

What to expect:

Bleomycin can cause anemia and reduce the body’s ability to fight infections. Hair loss, skin changes, nail discoloration and rash are additional potential side effects of bleomycin. One unique side effect that will be monitored closely is the potential for lung irritation and damage. Additionally, allergic reactions to bleomycin can occur and pre-medications are typically given prior to infusion to help reduce the likely hood of this. Nausea and vomiting can occur, but the medication is not usually a very nauseating chemotherapy medication.