Bleomycin (blee-oh-MYE-sin), an antibiotic, is used for its
cancer-fighting properties to treat:
For use in chemotherapy, it is usually administered intravenously or
through an intramuscular injection.
In some cases, bleomycin can cause severe lung problems (symptoms to watch out for: breathing discomfort, shortness of breath,
wheezing, fever, or chills). Smokers and the elderly are
particularly susceptible to this sort of problem.
Bleomycin may also interfere with the menstrual cycle in women and
stop sperm production in men. However, you should not assume that
you cannot get pregnant or that you cannot get someone else pregnant
while being treated with bleomycin. Use a reliable form of birth
control. Getting pregnant while receiving any type of chemotherapy is
not recommended, as chemotherapy is not good for a fetus.
Side effects from bleomycin are common and include:
Skin reactions such as itching
, tenderness, redness, or swelling may
indicate an allergy
and should be reported to a doctor immediately.
Bleomycin can also be used to treat warts (verruca vulgaris). When
used in this way, it is injected directly into the wart, in much
smaller amounts than would be used in chemotherapy. It is not usually
the first line of treatment for warts, mostly because it is
expensive compared to other methods of wart removal and because the
procedure of injecting it into the wart is extremely painful for the
patient. I wouldn't be at all surprised if it has resulted in more than a few dermatologists being kicked in the face while working on people's feet.
It is, however, extremely effective. Warts injected with bleomycin
turn black and peel off over the course of several weeks. In the case
of large warts, a second treatment may be necessary. Bleomycin should
not be used to remove warts on children or on pregnant women.
Although the amount used for wart removal is very small, it is still
extremely toxic stuff.
Bleomycin may cause circulation problems in fingers or toes treated
for warts. Because it is injected directly into the wart, it does not
cause hair loss, lung problems, or any of the other side effects which
are common with chemotherapy. As with intravenous administration,
itching or rash should be reported because it may indicate an allergy.