Chemotherapy drugs can kill cancerous cells through several mechanisms. There are many types of chemotherapy drugs, including alkylating agents and antimetabolites.
Chemotherapy drugs are unable to differentiate between healthy and cancerous cells, which can cause side effects during treatment. Healthy cells typically rebound from the effects of chemotherapy, but cancer cells usually do not.
This article discusses some of the most common chemotherapy medications for use during cancer treatment.
There are several
These were some of the earliest cancer treatments, and they are
They can help treat many types of cancer, but they are most effective against slow-growing cancers.
Some examples of alkylating agents include:
These drugs work by
These medications only work at specific stages in a cell’s growth cycle.
Some examples of antimetabolites include:
- trifluridine and tipiracil, which is a combination drug that comes in the form of a pill
Plant alkaloids are plant-based substances
They can work throughout a cell’s growth cycle, but they are most effective during certain phases.
Some examples of plant alkaloids include:
These drugs differ from antibiotics for treating infections. They work by causing DNA strands to unravel, which prevents the cell from dividing.
Some examples of anti-tumor antibiotics include:
- doxorubicin liposomal
Most cancer types have standard protocols that a doctor can follow when beginning treatment.
For example, doctors consider the type of cancer a person has and its stage before estimating which drugs will have the best response rates. They also consider response duration in their decision.
They will ultimately choose a drug with the highest response rate and longest duration for that type and stage of cancer.
Chemotherapy can cause several side effects, some of which can be serious. Doctors take into account the person’s overall health when deciding the number and dosage of chemotherapy drugs to recommend.
Some other common cancers include:
There are new cancer diagnoses in around 442 people per 100,000 each year. About 40% of people will receive a cancer diagnosis at some point in their lifetime.
Doctors administer chemotherapy in cycles of treatment and recovery. These cycles are generally
Some side effects of chemotherapy drugs can include:
- hair loss
- mouth sores
- weight changes or loss of appetite
- increased risk of infections
- easy bruising or bleeding
The following sections look at some common chemotherapy medications for each common type of cancer.
For breast cancer, a variety of chemotherapy drugs may be necessary, including:
- anthracyclines, such as doxorubicin
- taxanes, such as paclitaxel
- albumin-bound paclitaxel
Some chemotherapy drugs for prostate cancer include:
Doctors may start with a combination of docetaxel and prednisone, which is a steroid-based treatment. They may try cabazitaxel if the first combination does not treat the cancer.
- trifluridine and tipiracil
Doctors may use combinations of two or three drugs at a time for treating colorectal cancer.
People with bladder cancer might receive a combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy drugs that include:
- cisplatin plus fluorouracil
- mitomycin plus fluorouracil
When using chemotherapy without radiation therapy, the options include:
- gemcitabine and cisplatin
- dose-dense methotrexate, vinblastine, doxorubicin, and cisplatin
- cisplatin, methotrexate, and vinblastine
- gemcitabine and paclitaxel
Doctors may suggest receiving chemotherapy drugs individually if treatment combinations affect the body too strongly.
Chemotherapy is the
Doctors typically combine several drugs, including:
- cladribine (2-CdA)
- cytarabine (ara-C)
- liposomal doxorubicin
Doctors may use a combination of drugs called CHOP. This stands for cyclophosphamide, hydroxydaunorubicin, Oncovin (vincristine), and prednisone.
Chemotherapy breaks down cells with the goal of killing off cancer cells and preventing them from growing. It can be very hard on the body and cause several side effects.
However, there are some alternatives to chemotherapy, including:
Chemotherapy drugs work by disrupting the life cycle of cells and eventually killing them. These drugs target all cells, including healthy ones. However, normal cells typically regenerate after treatment finishes.
There are many chemotherapy drugs that doctors can choose from, depending on the type of cancer a person has and its stage. Most of these drugs come with side effects, but doctors can prescribe treatments to help alleviate some of these.