Bleomycin Side Effects & Stories

Read patient experiences with the antibiotic drug, bleomycin, used in chemotherapy. For medical information on bleomycin, check with your doctor.

Background: Bleomycin is usually given by injection to treat several cancers, including (but not limited to): cervical, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and testicular cancers1.


Bleomycin Side Effects

Some of the most common reported side effects from Bleomycin include, but are not limited to2:

  • Itching
  • Rash
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Changes to skin color

Patient Stories by Side Effect

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Stories

“I got ABVD chemo for the first two cycles, which was four rounds. For the rest of the eight treatments, it was just the AVD.

They took out the B drug (bleomycin) because my PET scan after the first four treatments showed that I had no evidence of disease. They were able to take out the bleomycin since it can be hard on your lungs.”

→ Lia S., Read Full Story

“I think the nausea got a little better without the bleomycin, but it was still pretty killer. One less medicine is always a relief.”

→ Mara T., Read Full Story

“My doctor is very much into clinical trials and research at a global scale. When I was going through treatment, he had just learned of a study that realized that if you pull bleomycin, the B in “ABVD,” halfway through your infusion schedule, it really has no effect on the remission rate.”

→ CC Webster, Read Full Story

“What impressed me about my new oncologist’s unique approach to this standard treatment was its dynamicity. It involved a mid-treatment PET/CT scan to determine if it was possible to downgrade the chemo regimen from the classic ABVD to a less intense AVD, thereby dropping the “B” (bleomycin) after just one of the six cycles.

Bleomycin is one of those nasty chemo drugs that can have detrimental long-term effects on your lungs. The less of it your body has to endure, the better, and his treatment approach was very mindful of that.”

→ Nicole M., Read Full Story

Testicular Cancer Stories

“Typically, anyone who is diagnosed with testicular cancer and needs chemo goes on the BEP regimen. Each cycle takes three weeks, and it’s three cycles, so it’s nine weeks.

However, after the first cycle, I had complications with the Bleomycin in my lungs. That’s not uncommon. Since I had those complications, they had to stop that particular chemo drug and continue with an extra two rounds of the EP.”

→ Hugo T., Read Full Story


All Patient Stories with Bleomycin


Nicole M., Hodgkin's, Stage 4



Cancer details: Staged 2 then 4 after second opinion
1st Symptoms: Extreme fatigue, persistent itching on lower half of legs
Treatment: 6 cycles (12 infusions) chemo, ABVD then AVD (dropped bleomycin)
...

Mara T., Stage 2BX (Bulky)



1st Symptoms: Shortness of breath, back pains, daily migraines
Treatment: 3 rounds of ABVD, 3 rounds AVD, Radiation
Topics: Self-advocacy, mental health
...

Erica H., Hodgkin's, Stage 3B



Cancer details: Staged at 3B
1st Symptoms: Intense itchiness, fatigue, night sweats, weight loss
Treatment:ABVD chemotherapy, 6 cycles (12 infusions)
...

Hugo T., Non-Seminoma, Stage 2B



Age at Diagnosis: 21
1st Symptoms:
Pea-sized lump on right testicle
Treatment: Surgical removal of right testicle, lymph node resection, chemotherapy

...

Steve L., Non-Seminoma, Stage 4



Age at Diagnosis: 25
1st Symptoms:
Grape-sized tumor on neck; hip and pelvis pain; ultrasound revealed tumor on right testicle
Treatment:
Chemotherapy (BEP), removal of right testicle, lymph node resection (RPLND), and tumor dissection in the neck
...

Lia S., Nodular Sclerosis, Stage 4A



Cancer details: Most common and most treatable form of Hodgkin's lymphoma
1st Symptoms:
Extreme lower back pain
Treatment:
ABVD chemotherapy
...

CC W., Hodgkin's, Stage 4



Cancer details: Diagnosed at 29, misdiagnosed as mono
1st Symptoms: Achiness, extreme fatigue, reactive rash on chest and neck. Later: chills, night sweats
Treatment: ABVD chemotherapy (6 cycles)
...
Kayla

Kayla T., Hodgkin's, Stage 3A



Cancer details: Possibly misdiagnosed the first time; later diagnosed as grey zone lymphoma
1st Symptoms: Pulled muscle in chest
Treatment: ABVD chemo, radiation, high-dose chemo, stem cell transplant
...
Tylere

Tylere P., Hodgkin, Stage 3



Cancer details: Mother is a nurse practitioner; suspected cancer
1st Symptoms: Swollen lymph nodes in neck
Treatment: Clinical trial; Chemotherapy, BMT
...

Jade B., Hodgkin, Stage 2X



Cancer details: Diagnosed at 21 years old
1st Symptoms: Itchy legs and feet
Treatment: ABVD chemotherapy (4 treatments), AVD (remaining treatments)
...

Stephanie O., Hodgkin's, Stage 2B



Cancer details: Stage 2 with bulky disease
1st Symptoms: Shortness of breath, dry cough
Treatment: Stanford V chemotherapy (12 weeks, 1 infusion each week), radiation (20 days)
...
Fabiola

Fabiola L., Hodgkin's, Stage 2BX



Cancer details: Stage 2 with bulky disease, relapsed after 1st chemo. Remission after 2nd chemo & bone marrow transplant
1st Symptoms: Shortness of breath, dry cough, fatigue
Treatment: ABVD chemo (6 cycles), IGEV chemo, bone marrow transplant, BEAM chemo, brentuximab
...
Wade looking out over a lawn

Wade W., Hodgkin's, Stage 2A



Cancer details: Diagnosed at 18 years old
1st Symptoms: Enlarged lymph nodes (around neck), diagnosed at 18 years old
Treatment: ABVD chemotherapy (2 cycles), AVD chemotherapy (4 cycles)
...
Lauren

Lauren C., Hodgkin's, Stage 2A



Cancer details: Diagnosed at 23 years old with nodular sclerosis, relapsed after 6 months of 1st-line treatment
1st Symptoms: Itchy body, enlarged lymph node over collar bone
Treatment: ABVD chemotherapy and ICE, radiation, and stem cell transplant for relapse
...

Helicon K., Hodgkin's, Stage 2A



Cancer details: Found lymphoma cells in adenoid tissue
1st Symptoms: Difficulty breathing with blockage in nose, surgery to remove tissue resulted in discovery of Hodgkin lymphoma cells
Treatment: ABVD chemotherapy (4 cycles), radiation (20 sessions)
...

Logan A., Hodgkin's, Stage 2A



Cancer details: Diagnosed at age 15
1st Symptoms:
Lump in neck & fatigue
Treatment:
4 cycles of ABVE-PC chemo
...

Lani S., Hodgkin's, Stage 2



Cancer details: Tumor pressing on heart
1st Symptoms: Appendicitis led to CT scan that found tumor
Treatment: ABVD chemotherapy, 7 cycles
...

Danielle D., Hodgkin's, Stage 2



Cancer details: Diagnosed at age 25
1st Symptoms: Swollen lump on right side of neck/chest area, continued to grow
Treatment: ABVD chemotherapy (3 cycles = 6 infusions)
...

Madi J., Hodgkin's, Stage 1B



Cancer details: Most common and most treatable form of Hodgkin lymphoma
1st Symptoms:
Shortness of breath
Treatment:
3 rounds (6 infusions) of ABVD chemo
...

References

1. Bleomycin. Medline Plus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 15 Aug 2011, https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682125.html.

2. Brandt, Josiah P.; Gerriets,Valerie. “Bleomycin.”Bookshelf, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 18 Sept 2020, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK555895/.