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BEACOPP

Find out what BEACOPP chemotherapy is, how you have it and other important information about having BEACOPP.

BEACOPP is the name of a combination of chemotherapy drugs. It includes: 

  • B – Bleomycin
  • E – Etoposide
  • A – Doxorubicin (also called Adriamycin)
  • C – Cyclophosphamide
  • O – Vincristine (also called Oncovin)
  • P – Procarbazine
  • P – Prednisolone (a steroid)

It is a treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma.

How it works

These chemotherapy drugs destroy quickly dividing cells, such as cancer cells.

How you have it

You have BEACOPP into your bloodstream (intravenously) or as tablets you swallow. 

Into your bloodstream

You can have the drug through a thin short tube (a cannula) that goes into a vein in your arm each time you have treatment.

Or you might have it through a long line: a central line, a PICC line or a portacath.

These are long plastic tubes that give the drug into a large vein in your chest. The tube stays in place throughout the course of treatment.

You have bleomycin, etoposide, doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide and vincristine into your bloodstream. 

Taking your tablets

You must take tablets according to the instructions your doctor or pharmacist gives you.

Whether you have a full or empty stomach can affect how much of a drug gets into your bloodstream.

You should take the right dose, not more or less.

Never stop taking a cancer drug without talking to your specialist first.

You take procarbazine and prednisolone as tablets. 

When you have it

You have BEACOPP chemotherapy as cycles of treatment, each lasting 3 weeks (21 days). You might have up to 8 cycles, taking about 6 months in total.

You have:

  • bleomycin as a drip into your bloodstream once each cycle
  • etoposide as a drip into your bloodstream three times each cycle
  • doxorubicin as an injection into your bloodstream (intravenously) once each cycle
  • cyclophosphamide as an injection into your bloodstream (intravenously) once each cycle
  • vincristine as a drip into your bloodstream once each cycle
  • procarbazine as capsules - swallow it whole with plenty of water
  • prednisolone as tablets - swallow it whole with plenty of water after breakfast
Day 1
  • etoposide as a drip into your bloodstream over 60 minutes
  • doxorubicin as an injection into your bloodstream (intravenously)
  • cyclophosphamide as an injection into your bloodstream (intravenously)
  • procarbazine as capsules - swallow it whole with plenty of water
  • prednisolone as tablets - swallow it whole with plenty of water after breakfast
Day 2 and Day 3
  • etoposide as a drip into your bloodstream over 60 minutes
  • procarbazine as capsules - swallow it whole with plenty of water
  • prednisolone as tablets - swallow it whole with plenty of water after breakfast
Day 4 to Day 7
  • procarbazine as capsules - swallow it whole with plenty of water
  • prednisolone as tablets - swallow it whole with plenty of water after breakfast
Day 8
  • bleomycin as a drip into your bloodstream
  • vincristine as a drip into your bloodstream
  • prednisolone as tablets - swallow it whole with plenty of water after breakfast
Day 9 to Day 14
  • prednisolone as tablets - swallow it whole with plenty of water after breakfast

You then have a week with no treatment. This completes one cycle of treatment.

2 week cycle

You might have BEACOPP treatment as a two week cycle, but this is less common. In this case you also have an injection called G - CSF. This makes the body produce white blood cells to reduce the risk of infection.

You have G - CSF each day for one week, after your chemotherapy finishes.

Tests during treatment

You have blood tests before starting treatment and during your treatment. They check your levels of blood cells and other substances in the blood. They also check how well your liver and kidneys are working.

Side effects

Important information

Other medicines, foods and drink

Cancer drugs can interact with some other medicines and herbal products. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about any medicines you are taking. This includes vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter remedies.

Pregnancy and contraception

This treatment might harm a baby developing in the womb. It is important not to become pregnant or father a child while you are having treatment and for a few months afterwards. Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment.

Fertility

You may not be able to become pregnant or father a child after treatment with this drug. Talk to your doctor before starting treatment if you think you may want to have a baby in the future. Men may be able to store sperm before starting treatment. Women may be able to store eggs or ovarian tissue but this is rare.

Breastfeeding

Don’t breastfeed during this treatment because the drugs may come through in your breast milk.

Treatment for other conditions

Always tell other doctors, nurses or dentists that you’re having this treatment if you need treatment for anything else, including teeth problems.

Immunisations

Don’t have immunisations with live vaccines while you’re having treatment and for at least 6 months afterwards.

In the UK, live vaccines include rubella, mumps, measles, BCG, yellow fever and Zostavax (shingles vaccine).

You can:

  • have other vaccines, but they might not give you as much protection as usual
  • have the flu vaccine
  • be in contact with other people who've had live vaccines as injections

Avoid contact with people who’ve had live vaccines taken by mouth (oral vaccines). This includes the rotavirus vaccine given to babies. The virus is in the baby’s urine for up to 2 weeks and can make you ill. So, you mustn't change their nappies for 2 weeks after their vaccination.

You also need to avoid anyone who has had oral polio or typhoid vaccination recently.

More information about this treatment

For further information about this treatment go to the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) website.

You can report any side effect you have to the Medicines Health and Regulatory Authority (MHRA) as part of their Yellow Card Scheme.

Information and help

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