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Support Care Cancer. 2012 Oct;20(10):2531-5. doi: 10.1007/s00520-011-1377-4. Epub 2012 Jan 15.

Carmustine infusion reactions are more common with rapid administration.

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Pharmacy Department, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, Australia.



Carmustine is a nitrosurea alkylating agent predominantly used at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre as part of the autologous stem cell transplant induction regimens Stanford BCNU and BEAM. Acute infusion reactions were anecdotally reported to be higher than the reported rates of 10%, and it was suggested that the rate of infusion being employed was excessive. Some references suggest maximum infusion rates of 3 mg/m(2)/min for carmustine, a rate which is exceeded in the 2-h infusions used for Stanford BCNU, but not with BEAM.


A retrospective audit was conducted in 64 patients (57 Stanford BCNU, 7 BEAM) who had received these regimens between January 2009 and November 2010.


Rates of infusion reaction to carmustine were higher than literature values, with reactions in Stanford BCNU (94.7%) being significantly higher than for BEAM (28.6%; P = 0.0003). These findings have resulted in a change of administration of carmustine in Stanford BCNU from 2 to 3 h. Further studies plan to compare the incidence of infusion reactions before and after the change in administration rates.


Patients receiving rapid infusion of carmustine in the Stanford BCNU regimen for stem cell conditioning have a high rate of infusion reaction. A maximum rate of 3 mg/m(2)/min is recommended.

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