Generic Name Brand Name
busulfan Myleran

Busulfan is available as a pill you can swallow. It is also available in an IV form, used for stem cell transplants.

How It Works

Busulfan is classified as an alkylating agent. It kills cells by interfering with the way they multiply.

Why It Is Used

Busulfan is used to treat chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML).

How Well It Works

Busulfan may be effective in slowly destroying blood cells in people who cannot take other drugs for their CML.1

Side Effects

Side effects are common with busulfan and may include:

  • Thinning or brittleness of the hair.
  • Darkening and drying of the skin.
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Weakness and fatigue.
  • Mouth sores (stomatitis).
  • Low blood counts, which may make you tired and more likely to get an infection. Your blood counts may stay low for a long time.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Busulfan should be used only under the supervision of a medical oncologist or hematologist.

During treatment, your doctor will want to check your blood cell counts often.

You may not be able to become pregnant or father a child after taking busulfan. Talk to your doctor about this before starting treatment.

Busulfan can cause birth defects. Do not use this drug if you are pregnant or wish to become pregnant or father a child while you are taking it.

Women who take this drug may experience symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes and vaginal dryness.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.



  1. Rabinowitz I, Larson, RS (2004): Chronic myeloid leukemia. In JP Greer et al., eds., Wintrobe's Clinical Hematology, 11th ed., vol. 2, pp. 2235-2258. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Last Updated: November 26, 2008

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