In BMT patients, the lung is a common area of infection. In addition, the lung is an organ that can be damaged by drugs or radiation. This is a frequent side effect of the chemotherapy agent Carmustine (BCNU). BCNU is used for Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma patients undergoing an autologous blood and marrow transplant. Side effects on the lung may also occur as a result of total body irradiation.
This condition may resemble an infection with cough, fever and shortness of breath, but antibiotics are ineffective. It usually develops several weeks or months following blood and marrow transplant, after the patient has been discharged home from the hospital.
It is critical that you or your local doctor contact your BMT doctor immediately if fever, cough and/or shortness of breath develop after returning home.
If treated early with steroid medication, the condition is curable. However, any delay in starting appropriate therapy may result in a fatal outcome for the patient.