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Using BiCNU to Treat Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma is cancer that begins in plasma cells. Plasma cells are white blood cells that are primarily found in the bone marrow, the spongy tissue that produces blood cells in the center of some bones.
Plasma cells make antibodies, which are part of the immune system. Antibodies work with other parts of the immune system to help protect the body from germs and other harmful substances. Each type of plasma cell makes a different antibody.
Myeloma begins when plasma cells become abnormal and grow out of control. The abnormal cells form a mass, or tumor, in the solid part of the bone. This makes it harder for the bone marrow to produce healthy blood cells, which can lead to symptoms such as anemia, frequent infections, and abnormal bleeding.
(Click on Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma for information about the possible symptoms of this condition.)
BiCNU is approved for use in combination with prednisone to treat multiple myeloma. It can help control the condition and reduce symptoms, but does not cure it.

BiCNU for Lymphoma

Lymphoma is a type of cancer that begins in the lymphatic system, when lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) become abnormal. The lymphatic system is part of the body's immune system. Its main job is to fight infections and other threats to the body. There are three major types of lymphocytes that can be affected by lymphoma, including:
  • B-cells (B lymphocytes)
  • T-cells (T lymphocytes)
  • Natural killer cells.
The lymphatic system is made up of a network of vessels that carry a clear fluid called lymph throughout the body (much like blood vessels carry blood throughout the body). These lymph vessels connect the lymph nodes, which help trap and remove harmful substances that may be in the lymph. Other parts of the lymphatic system include the tonsils, spleen, bone marrow, and thymus. Because lymph tissue is found throughout the body, lymphoma can begin in almost any part of the body and spread to almost any tissue or organ in the body.
Lymphoma can be separated into two major types: Hodgkin's lymphoma (also called Hodgkin's disease) and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Hodgkin's lymphoma is characterized by the presence of a specific type of abnormal lymphoid cell called the Reed-Sternberg cell. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma represents a large, diverse group of lymphomas that affect B-cells, T-cells, and natural killer cells (see Lymphoma Types for more information).
BiCNU is approved for use in combination with other approved lymphoma medicines. It is used as a secondary treatment, which means it is used to treat people who have become worse or have not adequately responded to first-line treatment. It does not cure the condition, but may be able to control it and reduce symptoms.
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