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How to use drugs to attack cancer cells – Cancer Chemotherapy


How to use drugs to attack cancer cells – Cancer Chemotherapy

  • Introduction to Cancer Chemotherapy
    • What is Chemotherapy? Chemotherapy is a kind of treatment that uses drugs to attack cancer It is called a “systemic treatment” since the drug, entering through the blood stream, travels throughout the body and kills cancer cells at their sites. Chemotherapy, often shortened to just “chemo”. The drugs may rarely be intended to have a local effect, but in most cases, the intention is to destroy cancer cells wherever they may exist in the body.
    • Chemotherapeutic drugs are chemically designed to target cells that are dividing and growing Once they reach the cancer cells, they act to retard their growth, eventually resulting in their destruction.
    • Chemotherapy may be given at home, in a clinic or in a The frequency of chemotherapy can be daily, weekly, monthly or an on-off schedule depending on the type of drug, the body’s response and the type of cancer. The chemotherapy is decided on the basis of the type of cancer. The dosage is calculated on the basis of the patient’s body weight and the drug’s toxicity.
    • The chemotherapy is concerned with the whole


  • Chemotherapy is used to treat:


  • early-stage invasive breast cancer to get rid of any cancer cells that may be left behind after surgery and to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back
  • advanced-stage breast cancer  to destroy or damage the cancer cells as much as possible


  • In some cases, chemotherapy is given before surgery to shrink the
  • At present more than 50 anticancer drugs have been They are used in several ways:


  • Monotherapy or only one drug
  • Combination chemotherapy or a group of drugs which work together
  • Combined modality or chemotherapy along with other treatment such as surgery and radiotherapy


  • The drugs are delivered to the affected cells in the following forms:


  • Oral (tablet form, by mouth)
  • Intravenous or Intramuscular (injected by needle into a vein or muscle)
  • Intrathecal chemotherapy (injected through a needle in the back)




History of Cancer Chemotherapy





  • How Chemotherapy Works?


  • Chemotherapy medicines prevent cancer cells from growing and spreading by destroying the cells or stopping them from
  • Cancer cells tend to grow and divide very quickly with no order or Because they’re growing so fast, sometimes cancer cells break away from the original tumor and travel to other places in the body. Chemotherapy weakens and destroys cancer cells at the original tumor site AND throughout the body.
  • Most normal cells grow and divide in a precise, orderly Still, some normal cells dodivide quickly, including cells in hair follicles, nails, the mouth, digestive tract, and bone marrow (bone marrow makes blood cells). Chemotherapy also can unintentionally harm these other types of’/rapidly dividing cells, possibly causing chemotherapy side effects.
  • When treating early-stage breast cancer, it’s fairly common for chemotherapy to be given after surgery, as soon as you Doctors call this “adjuvant” chemotherapy because it’s given in addition to surgery, which is considered the primary treatment.
  • In some cases, chemotherapy is given before surgery to shrink the cancer so that less tissue has to be When chemotherapy is given before surgery, it’s called “neoadjuvant” chemotherapy.
  • In many cases, chemotherapy medicines are given in combination, which means you get two or three different medicines at the same These combinations are known as chemotherapy regimens.
  • In early-stage breast cancer, standard chemotherapy regimens lower the risk of the cancer coming back. In advanced breast cancer, chemotherapy regimens make the cancer shrink or disappear in about 30-60% of people treated. Keep in mind that every cancer responds differently to chemotherapy.


Side Effects of Chemotherapy


Since chemotherapy also affects normal actively dividing cells such as those in the bone marrow, the gastrointestinal tract, the reproductive system and in the hair follicles, most patients experience some degree of side effects, which may include any or all of the following:


  • Nausea and vomiting: This is a common side effect of It can be controlled with anti-sickness drugs (anti-emetics).
  • Fatigue: Chemotherapy affects different people in different Some find they can lead fairly normal lives during treatment, but many find they become tired and have to take things more slowly. Just do as much as you can and be careful not to over-strain. Taking short naps may help.
  • Hair loss: This is the least harmful side effect, yet can be the hardest to The use of a cold compress around the scalp when taking chemotherapy helps stop hair loss to some extent. Hair will grow back surprisingly quickly once treatment is over.
  • Susceptibility to infections: When the drugs act on cancer cells, they also destroy normal cells including white blood cells, which fight When white blood cells are in short supply, the body’s immune system is weakened making you susceptible to infections. Any fever should be reported to the doctor.




  • Decrease in blood cell count: During chemotherapy, you may become Regular blood tests are done to ensure this does not happen. If necessary, blood transfusions are given.
  • Mouth sores and ulcers: Some chemotherapy drugs cause sores and ulcers in the Regular use of a mouthwash is very important.


Drugs Used in Cancer Chemotherapy


Ø  Cytotoxic Agents

  • Alkylating Agents
  • Antimetabolites
  • Cytotoxic antibiotics
  • Plant derivatives

Ø  Hormones

  • Suppress nat’l hormone secr’n or antagonize hormone action

Ø  Misc (mostly target oncogene products)






  • Role of Chemotherapy in Cancer Treatment





  • Cytotoxic Agents (Drugs) Used in Cancer Chemotherapy








  • Mechanism of Cancer Chemotherapy






  • Various Facets of Cancer Chemotherapy





  • Cancer Chemotherapy: Mechanisms of Antineoplastic Drugs





Toxicity of Antineoplastic Drugs and Their Classification






  • Alkylating Agents as Antineoplastic Drugs





Antimetabolites as Antineoplastic Drugs





  • Natural Products as Antineoplastic Drugs





  • Hormones and Antagonists and Miscellaneous Agents as Antineoplastic Drugs

Also see: Key Questions About mesothelioma You’ve Been Afraid To Ask, And Real Answers



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