Mar Vista Animal Medical Center

3850 Grand View Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90066

(310)391-6741

marvistavet.com

LOMUSTINE

(for veterinary information only)

ALSO KNOWN AS CCNU

 

BRAND NAMES: CEENU, GLEOSTINE, LOMUSTINUM

 

AVAILABLE IN
5 mg, 10 mg, 40 mg, and 100 mg
CAPSULES and
as INJECTABLE

 

BACKGROUND

The basic idea behind using drugs against cancer is that drugs can reach areas of the body inaccessible to surgery. One dose of chemotherapy is transported by the bloodstream to any place where the tumor may be lurking. The medications involve are designed to target cancer cells and leave normal body cells unaffected. Cancer cells are involved in activities (such as rapid cell division) that normal cells are not and these activities make them vulnerable to certain drugs. Lomustine is a member of the nitrosurea class of chemotherapy agents which acts by binding DNA to other DNA strands or to protein in such a way that the DNA double helix strand cannot replicate. In addition to essentially tangling DNA up, lomustine generates a by-product that prevents normal DNA function. Remember that DNA is the instruction manual for the cell. Continuing the analogy, lomustine makes the instruction manual pages unreadable and unturnable. Rapidly dividing cells, such as cancer cells, are most sensitive to its effects.

 

HOW THIS MEDICATION IS USED

Lomustine has the special ability to penetrate the blood/brain barrier which means it can be used to treat cancers of the nervous system.

The usual tumors against which lomustine is most commonly used are: lymphoma (particularly cutaneous (skin) lymphoma), mast cell tumors, brain tumors, kidney tumors, lung tumors, and melanoma.

Lomustine can be given either orally or intravenously, as the chemotherapy protocol dictates, generally once a month; However, more frequent mini-doses ("metronomic" therapy) is also sometimes used.

Lomustine should be given with food and one should wear gloves to administer it. Lomustine should be stored at room temperature, protected from light. If a dose is accidentally skipped, check with your veterinarian or oncologist for instructions as this medication is given on a fairly strict schedule in most cases.

 

SIDE EFFECTS

BONE MARROW SUPPRESSION 1-3 WEEKS AFTER ADMINISTRATION
Because lomustine targets rapidly dividing cells, the cells of the bone marrow are vulnerable whether or not there is cancer present. The bone marrow is where blood cells are produced and special attention is generally paid to the white blood cells whose numbers typically drop about a week after the lomustine dose is given. Often antibiotics are given during the week where the white count drops so as to at least in part make up for the blow to the immune system caused by the drug. Platelets, cells involved in blood clotting, also drop in number with lomustine but generally recover by the time for the next dose. If they have not, the dose may be delayed. Bone marrow effects are more pronounced in cats thus lower doses of lomustine are typically used.

LIVER TOXICITY
Lomustine is harsh on the patient’s liver as well. Liver disease first manifests as a change in lab testing, long (average of 10 weeks) before the patient actually feels ill. In one study, 7 out of 12 dogs with lomustine-related liver disease died and the ones that recovered had experienced fewer lomustine doses. To prevent a patient from developing serious liver disease, an enzyme called “Alanine Aminotransferase” (ALT) is monitored before each lomustine dose. If there is any elevation, the lomustine treatments are discontinued. No information is available regarding liver toxicity in cats on lomustine so currently the canine monitoring protocols are recommended for both species. Sometimes patients are given silymarin to help detoxify the liver or SAMe to assist in liver tissue repair. Alpha-lipoic acid, an antioxidant supplement, is also sometimes used. Liver failure occurs in < 2% of patients but vigilance is in part what keeps this statistic low.

KIDNEY DAMAGE
Kidney damage from lomustine is not common but is usually included in the monitoring.

UPSET STOMACH
Normal intestinal cells are also rapidly dividing and most chemotherapy agents targeting rapid cell division generally cause an upset stomach. Approximately 38% of canine patients on lomustine report upset stomach, mostly vomiting.

LUNG SCARRING, STOMATITIS, CORNEAL WEAKENING
Other side effects that have been reported include: oral inflammation, scarring of lung tissue, and thinning of the surface of the eye (corneal de-epithelialization).

 

INTERACTIONS WITH OTHER DRUGS

Any time two drugs with potential to suppress the bone marrow are used together, the risk of marrow suppression becomes greater. Such drugs would include other agents of chemotherapy, chloramphenicol, possibly methimazole, etc.

Any time two drugs that have potential to suppress immune function are used together, the risk of infection becomes greater. Such drugs would include other agents of chemotherapy and corticosteroids.

 

CONCERNS AND CAUTIONS

As with all chemotherapy agents, lomustine should not be used in pregnancy, lactation, or in animals to be used for breeding.

Live vaccinations should not be given while the patient is on lomustine.

On the day your pet receives lomustine and for several days following, gloves should be worn while removing all body wastes from the pet from the environment. The waste and the gloves may be disposed of in the regular trash but should be enclosed in a plastic bag first.

PREGNANT WOMEN SHOULD NOT HANDLE THIS MEDICATION NOR SHOULD THEY HANDLE WASTE FROM A PATIENT ON THIS MEDICATION.

Page last updated: 11/22/2021