Lomustine (Generic Name)

Other Names: CCNU

About this drug

Lomustine is used to treat cancer. It is given by mouth (orally).

Possible side effects

  • Bone marrow depression. This is a decrease in the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. It may increase your risk for infection, fatigue, and bleeding.
  • Nausea and vomiting. These effects may occur 2 to 6 hours after a dose of the drug and may last for up to 24 hours.
  • Soreness of the mouth and throat. You may have red areas, white patches, or sores that are painful.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Changes in lung tissues. These changes, which may occur with high doses of this drug, may not be permanent, and your lung tissue may return to normal. Sometimes these changes may not be seen for years. You may develop a cough or have difficulty catching your breath.
  • Changes in kidney function. Your kidney function will be checked as needed.
  • Increased risk of developing another cancer (rare)
  • Sexual problems and reproductive concerns. This drug may temporarily or permanently affect the ability to have children for both men and women. This cannot be determined before therapy. In men, this drug may interfere with the ability to make sperm, but it should not change the ability to have sexual relations. In women, menstrual bleeding may become irregular or stop while receiving this drug. Even if you don’t have a menstrual period, it’s still possible to become pregnant. Women also may have signs of menopause, like vaginal dryness or itching.
  • Effects on an unborn child. This drug may have harmful effects on an unborn child. Use effective methods of birth control during your cancer treatment. Genetic counseling is available to you to discuss the effect of this drug therapy on future pregnancies. If it turns out that you are pregnant or become pregnant, talk with a genetic counselor. He or she can review the potential risks to the fetus.

Treating side effects

  • Ask your doctor or nurse about medicine that is available to help prevent or lessen nausea and vomiting.
  • Mouth care is very important. Your mouth care should consist of gentle brushing with a very soft toothbrush and rinsing your mouth with a mixture of 1/2 teaspoon of salt or 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) in 8 ounces of water. This should be done at least after every meal and at bedtime. Avoid mouthwash that contains alcohol. Avoid alcohol and smoking because they can irritate your mouth and throat.
  • Vaginal lubricants can be used to lessen vaginal dryness, itching, and pain during sexual relations.
  • Speak with your doctor or nurse if you plan to have children. Ask for information on sperm or egg banking.

Food and drug interactions

Avoid drinking alcohol for 1 hour after taking lomustine with food. This drug may interact with other medicine. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of the medicines and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs, and others) that you are currently taking. The safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements and alternative diets are often unknown. Using these might unexpectedly affect your cancer or interfere with your treatment. Until more is known, you should not use dietary supplements or alternative diets without your cancer doctor’s advice.

When to call the doctor

Call your doctor or nurse immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Temperature of 100.5 F (38 C) or above
  • Chills
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Trouble breathing
  • Uncontrolled nausea that prevents you from eating or drinking
  • Vomiting more than 3 times in 1 day
  • Jaw tightness or trouble swallowing or saying words
  • Confusion


Call your doctor or nurse as soon as possible if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty walking or changes in the way you walk
  • Dry cough that is persistent
  • Nausea not helped by prescribed medicine
  • Painful mouth or throat, or discomfort when eating or drinking
  • Persistent loss of appetite or rapid weight loss (more than 5 pounds in 1 week)
  • Extreme fatigue that interferes with normal activities

Other instructions

Whenever you tell a doctor or nurse your health history, always tell them that you have received lomustine.

©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com