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Lomustine

Lomustine

Definition

Lomustine is one of the anticancer (antineoplastic) drugs in a class called alkylating agents. It is available under the brand name CeeNU. Another commonly used name is CCNU.

Purpose

Lomustine is primarily used to treat brain tumors and Hodgkin's disease , which is a type of cancer that affects the lymph nodes and spleen.

Description

Lomustine chemically interferes with the synthesis of genetic material (DNA and RNA) of cancer cells, which prevents these cells from being able to reproduce and continue the growth of the cancer.

Recommended dosage

Lomustine is taken orally (in pill form). The dosage is typically 100 to 130 mg per square meter of body surface area once every 6 weeks. Lomustine should be taken on an empty stomach just prior to bedtime to prevent possible nausea and/or vomiting. Patients should avoid alcohol one hour before and shortly after taking lomustine.

Precautions

Lomustine can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Patients with a prior allergic reaction to lomustine should not take this drug.

Lomustine can cause harm to the fetus if a woman is taking this drug during pregnancy. Women of childbearing potential should use appropriate contraceptive measures to prevent pregnancy while on lomustine. There have been reports of infertility in men taking this drug due to testicular damage.

It is not known if lomustine is excreted in breast milk. Because of the potential of severe adverse effect, it is recommended that breastfeeding women should discuss with their physician the risk versus benefit of breast-feeding while taking lomustine.

Side effects

Common side effects of lomustine include nausea and/or vomiting, as well as an increased susceptibility to infection due to decreased production in the cells that fight infections. Patients should avoid crowds or exposure to any individuals who may have infections. Also, an increased risk of bleeding can occur due to decreased production of the platelets that are involved with the blood clotting process.

Less common side effects that may also occur include loss of appetite (anorexia ), diarrhea , temporary hair loss (alopecia ), and skin rash.

A doctor should be consulted immediately if the patient experiences any of the following effects:

  • black, tarry or bloody stools
  • blood in the urine
  • confusion
  • persistent cough
  • fever and chills
  • sore throat
  • red spots on the skin
  • shortness of breath
  • unusual bleeding or bruising

Interactions

Lomustine should not be taken in combination with any prescription drug, over-the-counter drug, or herbal remedy without prior consultation with a physician.

Paul A. Johnson, Ed.M.

KEY TERMS

Antineoplastic

A drug that prevents the growth of a neoplasm by interfering with the maturation or proliferation of the cells of the neoplasm.

Neoplasm

New abnormal growth of tissue.

Hodgkins disease

A disease characterized by enlargement of the lymph nodes and spleen.

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