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The lungs are the organs responsible for supplying oxygen to the body and ridding it of carbon dioxide. Sometimes, treatments given for children’s cancer can cause lung damage. If a patient received bleomycin during treatment for childhood cancer, it is important that they learn about certain lung problems that can occur from this treatment, which may include:
Interstitial Pneumonitis (Lung Inflammation)Interstitial pneumonitis is inflammation of the thin layer of tissue between the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. This inflammation can worsen if a person develops lung infections, such as pneumonia. Interstitial pneumonitis sometimes develops after exposure to toxic fumes, tobacco, or high levels of oxygen given over several hours.
Pulmonry Fibrosis (Lung Scarring)Pulmonary fibrosis is the formation of scar tissue in the small air sacs (alveoli) of the lungs. Scarring makes the lungs stiffer and affects the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the alveoli. Pulmonary fibrosis may worsen over time and can sometimes lead to early heart failure.
Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)Breathing problems associated with high levels of oxygen and/or intravenous fluids ARDS is a serious condition that occurs when alveoli in the lungs are damaged and can no longer provide oxygen to the body. People who have received bleomycin may be at risk for developing ARDS, usually as a result of a combination of high levels of oxygen and large amounts of intravenous fluid given during surgery. However, the risk of developing ARDS is very low. When undergoing a medical procedure requiring oxygen or general anesthesia, patients must tell their surgeon, anesthesiologist, and other healthcare providers that they have received bleomycin for treatment of childhood cancer.