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Gliadel Side Effects

Many people who receive Gliadel develop some type of side effect, some of which can be quite dangerous. If you have received this medicine and experience a severe headache, seizures, or vision changes, seek immediate medical attention. Clinical studies have shown that some of the most commonly reported problems with Gliadel include worsening of health, paralysis on one side of the body, and confusion.

An Introduction to Gliadel Side Effects

Just like any medicine, Gliadel® (carmustine implant) can cause side effects. Not everyone who receives the drug will experience problems. However, like other chemotherapy medicines, Gliadel can cause significant side effects in many people. Talk with your healthcare provider about ways to prevent or lessen reactions to this drug.
(This article covers many, but not all, of the possible side effects with Gliadel. Your healthcare provider can discuss a more complete list with you.)

Common Side Effects With Gliadel

Gliadel has been studied extensively in clinical trials. In these studies, the side effects that occurred in a group of people given the drug were carefully documented and compared to those that occurred in a similar group of people given a placebo (an implant that did not contain any active ingredients). As a result, it was possible to see what side effects occurred, how often they appeared, and how they compared to the placebo.
In these studies, the most common Gliadel side effects included:
  • Worsening of health or the condition being treated, such as progression of the tumor or cancer -- in up to 82 percent of people
  • Paralysis on one side of the body -- up to 41 percent
  • Seizures -- up to 33 percent
  • Headache -- up to 28 percent
  • Confusion -- up to 23 percent
  • Swelling around the brain -- up to 23 percent
  • Weakness or lack of energy -- up to 22 percent
  • Nausea -- up to 22 percent
  • Vomiting -- up to 21 percent
  • Constipation -- up to 19 percent.
Other common reactions, occurring in 1 percent to 18 percent of people, included but were not limited to:
  • Infections, including pneumonia and urinary tract infections (UTI, such as a bladder infection)
  • Fever
  • Speech problems
  • Abnormal healing of wounds
  • Pain
  • Rash
  • Drowsiness
  • Blood clots in a vein or the lungs
  • Hair loss (alopecia)
  • Swelling of the arms, hands, legs, ankles, or feet
  • Loss of memory
  • Increased brain pressure
  • Abdominal (stomach) pain
  • Loss of bladder control (incontinence)
  • Changes in personality
  • Changes in mood, such as depression or anxiety
  • Back pain
  • Internal bleeding
  • Paralysis of the face
  • Numbness, tingling, or pricking sensations
  • Swelling of the face
  • Vision problems, such as double vision or blurry vision
  • Problems with movement, balance, or coordination
  • Abnormal thinking
  • Diarrhea
  • Abscess (a collection of pus in a swollen area of the body)
  • Accidental injury
  • Chest pain
  • Diabetes
  • Tremor
  • Dizziness
  • Seeing or hearing things that are not real (hallucinations)
  • Brain infection, such as meningitis or brain abscess
  • Muscle weakness
  • Coma
  • Cushing's syndrome
  • Shortness of breath
  • An allergic reaction
  • Abnormal liver function tests, which could be a sign of liver problems.
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