How Does It Work?
BiCNU belongs to a group of medications called alkylating agents. In general, alkylating agents transfer a piece of their structure, called an alkyl group, to DNA. This causes the strands of DNA to bond to each other and become linked (known as "cross-linking"). The linked strands are unable to uncoil and separate, which is necessary for the DNA to replicate.
Because DNA replication is essential for cells to grow and multiply, alkylating medications like BiCNU help prevent cancer cells from growing and multiplying.
Is It Safe for Children to Use BiCNU?BiCNU has not been adequately studied in children and is not approved for use in this age group (usually defined as individuals younger than 18 years old). This drug has been reported to cause certain lung damage known as pulmonary fibrosis in people who received BiCNU treatment as children. Pulmonary fibrosis is a condition in which the lungs become thick, stiff, and scarred.
In some people, pulmonary fibrosis occurred as much as 17 years after treatment with BiCNU. The pulmonary fibrosis from BiCNU can cause death. Talk to your child's healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of using this medicine in children.
Can Older Adults Use It?Older adults can use BiCNU. However, there were not enough people aged 65 and older in clinical trials to determine if older adults respond differently to the medicine than younger age groups.
BiCNU is removed from the body by the kidneys. Because older adults are more likely to have reduced kidney function, they may need to be monitored more closely and may require lower doses of this medication.
Off-Label Uses for BiCNUOn occasion, your healthcare provider may recommend this drug for treating something other than the conditions discussed in this article. This is called an "off-label" use. For example, BiCNU may be prescribed off-label for the following uses: