BiCNU is prescribed to treat a number of cancers and tumors. Specifically, BiCNU is used to treat brain tumors, multiple myeloma, and Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. As a type of alkylating agent, BiCNU works to prevent cancer cells from growing and multiplying by interfering with the DNA replication process. Some "off-label" uses include treating stomach cancer, colorectal cancer, and other types of cancer.
What Is BiCNU Used For?BiCNU® (carmustine) is a prescription medication that belongs to a group of chemotherapy drugs known as alkylating agents. It is approved to treat people with certain types of tumors and cancer, including:
- Brain tumors
- Multiple myeloma, in combination with prednisone
- Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma that has not improved or has become worse after previous treatment.
When used to treat lymphoma, BiCNU is given in combination with other medicines.
BiCNU Use for the Treatment of Brain Tumors
A brain tumor is a mass of abnormal cells that grows in the brain. The abnormal cells that cause brain tumors can start in the brain or move to the brain from other areas of the body.
Primary brain tumors are tumors that begin in the brain. Secondary brain tumors result from cancer that started somewhere else in the body, such as the lungs or breast, and spread from the original site to the brain. Secondary brain tumors are also called metastatic brain tumors.
Primary brain tumors are generally classified by the type of cell they start in. The most common primary brain tumors are gliomas, which begin in glial cells. Glial cells help support and protect the brain's nerve cells.
BiCNU is approved to treat secondary brain tumors. It is also approved to treat several types of primary brain tumors, including:
- Astrocytoma, a tumor that begins in star-shaped glial cells called astrocytes
- Glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of astrocytoma
- Medulloblastoma, a tumor that occurs in the cerebellum (the lower back part of the brain)
- Ependymoma, a tumor that usually begins in cells that line the spaces in the brain and around the spinal cord
- Brainstem glioma, a glioma that occurs in the brainstem (the lowest part of the brain that connects to the spinal cord).
(Click on the following articles to learn more about these types of brain tumors: