Find out what bendamustine is, how you have it and other important information about taking bendamustine.
It is a treatment for:
- non-Hodgkin lymphoma if you have already had rituximab
- chronic lymphocytic leukaemia if you can't have fludarabine
- myeloma if you can’t have high dose chemotherapy with a stem cell transplant and are unable to have thalidomide or bortezomib
How it works
Bendamustine is a type of chemotherapy drug called an alkylating agent.
These drugs work by interfering with the DNA in cancer cells. The cells can’t divide into 2 new cells so the cancer can’t grow
How you have it
You have bendamustine as cycles of treatment. Your treatment plan depends on which type of cancer you have. And whether you’re having bendamustine on its own or with other chemotherapy drugs.
You have bendamustine as a drip into your bloodstream (intravenously). Each treatment takes between 30 and 60 minutes.
You can have it through a thin short tube (a cannula) that goes into a vein in your arm each time you have treatment. You can also have it through a long line: a central line, a PICC line or a portacath.
These are long, plastic tubes that give the drugs into a large vein in your chest. The tube stays in place throughout the course of your treatment.
When you have treatment
You have bendamustine every 3 weeks on day 1 and day 2 of your cycle. Each 3 week period is a cycle of treatment. You then have a break for 19 days. This completes one cycle of treatment.
Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia
You have bendamustine every 4 weeks on day 1 and day 2 of your cycle. Each 4 week period is a cycle of treatment. You then have a break for 26 days. This completes one cycle of treatment.
You have bendamustine every 4 weeks on day 1 and day 2 of your cycle. And you have the steroid, prednisolone either as an injection into your bloodstream or as a tablet for the first 4 days. Each 4 week period is a cycle of treatment. You then have a break for 26 days. This completes one cycle of treatment.
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.
Other medicines, food 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 drug may harm a baby developing in the womb. It is important not to become pregnant or father a child while you are having treatment with this drug and for at least 6 months afterwards. Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment.
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.
Don’t breastfeed during this treatment because the drug 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.
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).
- 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.