Decorative image

Bendamustine (Levact)

Find out what bendamustine is, how you have it and other important information about taking bendamustine.

It is a treatment for:

  • non-Hodgkin lymphoma 
  • chronic lymphocytic leukaemia 
  • myeloma 

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.

Diagram showing a central line

When you have treatment

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

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.

Myeloma

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.

Side effects

Important information

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.

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 drug may come through in your breast milk.

Treatment for other conditions

Always tell other doctors, nurses, pharmacists 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 shingles vaccine (Zostavax).

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, avoid changing their nappies for 2 weeks after their vaccination if possible. Or wear disposable gloves and wash your hands well afterwards.

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

Dangoor sponsorship

About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.