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Bleomycin (Blenoxane)

Article Translations: (Spanish)

How does this medicine work?

Bleomycin (blee oh mye sin) destroys cancer cells by interfering with a specific phase of cell life.

How is the medicine given?

Bleomycin is given into a vein (IV) or as an injection under the skin (Sub-Q). It is given in the hospital or clinic.

What are the side effects?


  • low blood counts
  • mild nausea and vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • increased skin coloring of elbows and knees
  • thickening of nail beds


  • fatigue
  • mouth sores
  • rash
  • hair loss
  • swelling and redness in hands and feet
  • fever and chills 6 hours after the infusion


  • shortness of breath and dry cough from lung damage
  • kidney damage
  • confusion

When should I call the clinic?

  • fever or chills
  • mouth sores
  • cough
  • hoarseness
  • skin rash or irritation
  • continued vomiting
  • signs of an allergic reaction:
    • fever or chills
    • sudden rash or hives
    • wheezing
    • trouble breathing - call 911

What else do I need to know?

All caregivers should wear gloves when handling urine, stool, and vomit while your child is receiving the chemotherapy and for 48 hours afterward. Urine, stool, and vomit can be safely disposed of in septic tanks and the sewer system.

Any clothing or bed linens that are contaminated with urine, stool, or vomit should be washed separately from other laundry in hot water and detergent. Anyone handling the contaminated laundry should wear gloves.

Report dizziness or signs of allergic reaction during the infusion.

Blood samples may be needed to check the effects of the bleomycin. Blood counts are lowest at 1 to 2 weeks after the medicine is given.

Due to the potential for lung scarring, periodic chest X-rays and pulmonary function tests are done at times during treatment to check the lungs. Kidney function tests are also done. Dosage is carefully monitored.

Good mouth care will help prevent mouth sores.

Prevent sunburn. During treatment and for one year after, your child should wear sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher), a hat, and protective clothing when outdoors.

You and your child should know the names of all the medicines he or she is taking. Share this information with anyone involved in your child's care.


This sheet is not specific to your child but provides general information. If you have any questions, please call the oncology clinic or pharmacy.

Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota
Patient/Family Education
2525 Chicago Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Last reviewed 8/2015 ©Copyright

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit

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