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Bleomycin is used in the treatment of cervical cancer, cancer of mouth, nasopharynx and paranasal sinuses, larynx, oesophagus and skin cancer.

How it works

Bleomycin works by damaging the genetic material (DNA) of the cancer cells and stops their growth and multiplication.

Common side effects

Skin pigmentation, Interstitial pneumonia, Pulmonary fibrosis, Nail discoloration, Nausea, Vomiting, Loss of appetite, Hair loss, Fever, Rigors, Decreased appetite, Weight loss, Thinning of skin, Stomatitis (Inflammation of the mouth), Scratch dermatitis

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Expert advice

  • Inform your doctor before taking bleomycin if you have severe heart disease, kidney problems, lung problems requiring use of oxygen, impaired liver function, and chicken pox or if you are about to undergo a surgery.
  • Inform your doctor before taking bleomycin if you are taking other anticancer/cytotoxic drugs such as vinca alkaloids or cisplatin, drugs such as clozapine or if you have received radiation in the chest area.
  • Seek immediate medical advice if you develop dry cough, breathlessness, rapid breathing or any other lung problems.
  • Do not drive or operate heavy machinery after taking this drug as it may make you feel weak or tired.
  • Tell your doctor if you are or planning to become pregnant or are breastfeeding.

Frequently asked questions



What does bleomycin treat?
Bleomycin is used to treat squamous cell cancers, certain types of blood cancers, skin cancers and cancer of the thyroid, bladder, lungs, abdomen or genitals


Does bleomycin cause pulmonary fibrosis, nausea or hair loss?
Yes. Bleomycin may cause pulmonary fibrosis, nausea and hair loss. If you notice any such symptoms, please consult your doctor


How does bleomycin cause pulmonary fibrosis?
Pulmonary fibrosis (scarring of the tissue of the lungs) is one of the side effects of bleomycin. It is reportedly caused by lack of an enzyme that metabolises bleomycin in the lungs.

Content on this page was last updated on 22 February, 2017, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)