Bendamustine (Levact)

Find out what bendamustine is, how you have it and other important information about taking bendamustine for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

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 you have bendamustine chemotherapy

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

You have blood tests before 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're having treatment and for a few months afterwards. Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment.

Breastfeeding

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

Blood clots

You are more at risk of developing a blood clot during treatment. Drink plenty of fluids and keep moving to help prevent clots.

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 up to 12 months afterwards. The length of time depends on the treatment you are having. Ask your doctor or pharmacist how long you should avoid live vaccinations.

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

You can:

  • have other vaccines, but they might not give you as much protection as usual
  • have the flu vaccine (as an injection)

Contact with others who have had immunisations - You can be in contact with other people who have had live vaccines as injections. Avoid close contact with people who have recently had live vaccines taken by mouth (oral vaccines) such as the oral typhoid vaccine.

If your immune system is severely weakened, you should avoid contact with children who have had the flu vaccine as a nasal spray. This is for 2 weeks following their vaccination.

Babies have the live rotavirus vaccine. The virus is in the baby’s poo for about 2 weeks and could make you ill if your immunity is low. Get someone else to change their nappies during this time if you can. If this isn't possible, wash your hands well after changing their nappy.

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.

Related links