Lomustine capsules

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Lomustine will be prescribed for you by a specialist doctor. It is usually taken on one day every 6-8 weeks.

Keep your regular appointments with your doctor or hospital. You will need to have frequent blood tests.

If you think you are getting an infection or if you have a high temperature, please contact your doctor straightaway.

Type of medicineAn alkylating chemotherapy medicine
Used forCancer
Available asCapsules

Lomustine is used to treat some cancers. It is given in particular to treat Hodgkin's disease when other treatments have not proved effective. It is also prescribed for some brain, lung and skin cancers. Lomustine can be given alongside other medicines or treatments for cancer.

In cancer, certain cells in the body grow and multiply too fast. Chemotherapy medicines like lomustine work by preventing the growth and division of cells. This reduces the number of cancer cells that your body makes.

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking lomustine it is important that your doctor knows:

  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • If you have any problems with the way your kidneys work.
  • If you have an infection or feel unwell.
  • If you have coeliac disease or wheat allergy.
  • If you have a rare inherited blood condition called porphyria.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
  • If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • Before you start this treatment, read any printed information you have been given by your doctor and the printed manufacturer's leaflet from inside your pack of capsules. These will give you more information about lomustine and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • Lomustine will be prescribed for you by a specialist doctor who is experienced in treating your condition. Your doctor will calculate what dose is right for you and will tell you how many capsules to take. You will also be told on which day you should take them - it is important that you take lomustine exactly as your doctor tells you to. It is usually taken on just one day every 6-8 weeks (occasionally the dose can be split over three days instead). Your dose will be printed on the label of the pack to remind you about what the doctor said to you but if you are unsure about how to take the capsules, or if you have any other concerns, you should contact your doctor or hospital clinic for advice.
  • If you are sick shortly after taking a dose, please speak with your doctor or clinic for advice on what to do.
  • You must try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor or hospital. This is so your doctor can check on your progress. You will need to have regular blood tests and check-ups during your treatment with lomustine.
  • It is important that you do not get pregnant or father a child while you are taking lomustine. Make sure you have discussed with your doctor which types of contraception are suitable for you and your partner. You should continue to use contraception for six months after your treatment has finished. If you would like to have children in the future, you should ask your doctor for advice about family planning before you begin taking lomustine. This is particularly important if you are a man, as there is a risk of reduced male fertility or sterility with lomustine treatment.
  • While you are taking lomustine and for six months after you have stopped the treatment, do not have any immunisations (vaccinations) without talking to your specialist doctor first. Lomustine lowers your body's resistance and there is a risk that you will get an infection from some vaccines.

Medicines used to treat cancer can have a number of side-effects, some of which can be delayed for several days or weeks after taking the medicine. Most chemotherapy medicines can lower the number of white cells in your blood, which increases the risk of you getting an infection. The risk of this is commonly highest 4-6 weeks after taking lomustine. You should take precautions to reduce the risk of getting an infection - you can do this by avoiding being with people who you know have an infection. If you think you are getting a sore throat or if you have a high temperature, please let your doctor know as soon as possible so that you can get some treatment straightaway.

Your doctor will discuss with you the possibility of unwanted side-effects from your treatment with lomustine, although not everyone experiences these. The table below contains some of the side-effects associated with lomustine. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. Please let your doctor know if you experience any of the following:

Lomustine side-effectsWhat can I do if I experience this?
A high temperature, or symptoms of an infectionLet your doctor know about this straightaway
Feeling or being sick, loss of appetiteStick to simple foods. Let your doctor know about this, as an anti-sickness medicine may help
Mouth ulcers, sore mouthBrushing your teeth 2-3 times a day with a soft toothbrush and regularly using a mouth rinse may help to prevent this. If mouth ulcers become a problem, speak with your doctor
Feeling disorientated, confused or tired; loss of hair (occurs rarely)If troublesome, let your doctor know
Changes to some blood testsYour doctor will check for these

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the capsules, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.

If you buy any medicines, always check with a pharmacist that they are suitable for you to take with your prescribed medicines.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

  • British National Formulary; 69th Edition (Mar 2015) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Helen Huins
Document ID:
13912 (v2)
Last Checked:
31/07/2015
Next Review:
30/07/2018
The Information Standard - certified member

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