Table of Contents
Journal of Cancer Research
Volume 2013, Article ID 480608, 9 pages
Review Article

Bleomycin-Induced Lung Injury

Serviço de Oncologia Clínica, Instituto Nacional de Câncer (INCA), Praça da Cruz Vermelha 23, 20230-130 Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil

Received 8 April 2013; Accepted 16 September 2013

Academic Editor: Rainald Knecht

Copyright © 2013 Tomás Reinert et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Bleomycin is a chemotherapeutic agent commonly used to treat curable diseases such as germinative tumors and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The major limitation of bleomycin therapy is pulmonary toxicity, which can be life threatening in up to 10% of patients receiving the drug. The mechanism of bleomycin-induced pneumonitis (BIP) involves oxidative damage, relative deficiency of the deactivating enzyme bleomycin hydrolase, genetic susceptibility, and the elaboration of inflammatory cytokines. Ultimately, BIP can progress to lung fibrosis. The diagnosis of BIP is established by the combination of systemic symptoms, radiological and histological findings, and respiratory function tests abnormalities, while other disorders should be excluded. Although the diagnosis and pathophysiology of this disease have been better characterized over the past few years, there is no effective therapy for the disease. In general, the clinical picture is extremely complex. A greater understanding of the BIP pathogenesis may lead to the development of new agents capable of preventing or even treating the injury already present. Physicians who prescribe bleomycin must be aware of the potential pulmonary toxicity, especially in the presence of risk factors. This review will focus on BIP, mainly regarding recent advances and perspectives in diagnosis and treatment.