Cancer: Types of Chemotherapy



Cancer, is a disease that is killing many people around the world, therefore, for some years, Health Institutes, pharmacological companies, and research centers, among others, have been committed to find and develop more effective treatments and with fewer side effects for patients.

Currently, one of the most used treatments for cancer is chemotherapy, which although its use is believed exclusive of cancer, some of these drugs are also used for other diseases.

Chemotherapy aims to attack all the cells of the body that have an abnormal growth, either destroying them or controlling their growth. In general, chemotherapy treatments consist of a combination of different medications that are usually administered intermittently or in cycles (weekly, every 2, 3, or 4 weeks).

Currently more than 100 chemotherapy drugs are used in many combinations, each of these drugs can be divided into certain groups, taking into account their mechanism of action, chemical structure and its relationship with other drugs. Some drugs act in more than one way, and may belong to more than one group.

Alkylating drugs

Alkylating drugs directly damage the cell's DNA to stop cell reproduction. They work in all phases of the cell cycle and are used to treat different types of cancer, including leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease, multiple myeloma, sarcoma, lung cancer, breast, ovarian cancer, among others.
Because of the direct damage they cause to DNA, these drugs can cause damage to the bone marrow, and in rare cases develop acute leukemia. The risk to develop leukemia is dose-dependent, this means that it will be mild in small doses, and will increase as the dose increases. Some medications of this type are: chlorambucil, cyclophosphamide, mechlorethamine, temozolomide, busulfan, etc.

Antimetabolites

Antimetabolites interfere with the development of DNA and RNA, replacing normal blocks of DNA and RNA. These agents act during the cellular S phase, when chromosomal duplication occurs. They are common to treat leukemia, breast cancer, ovary, intestinal tract, among others.
Some drugs are: 5-fluoracil, 6-mercaptopurine, floxuridine, metrotexate, etc.

Antitumor antibiotics

These drugs are not like the antibiotics used to treat infections, they work by altering the DNA inside the cancer cells, thus preventing their development and multiplication. Some examples are: danorubicin, dexorubicin, epirubicin, bleomycin, mitomycin, among others. These drugs can cause permanent damage to the heart by using them for a long time in high doses.

Mitotic inhibitors

These drugs act by stopping mitosis in the M phase of the cell cycle, however, they can cause cell damage in all phases, maintaining enzymes that destroy proteins necessary for cell reproduction.
Some examples are: paclitaxel, vinblastine, vincristine, docetaxel, among others. These are used to treat different types of cancer, including: breast cancer, myelomas, lymphomas, leukemias, etc.
They can cause damage to the nervous system.

Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids are natural hormones and hormones used as drugs, which are useful for the treatment of various types of cancer, as well as other diseases. When these drugs are used as part of cancer treatment, they are considered chemotherapy.

They are usually used to help prevent nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. They are also used before chemotherapy to prevent severe allergic reactions.

Some examples are: prednisone, methylprednisolone and dexamethasone.

There are many drugs used for chemotherapy, each having its mechanism of action, their effects are different. Our doctor will always offer us the best option depending on the treatment we need.

Did you know...

The beginnings of the modern era of chemotherapy can be directly related to the discovery that mustard gas, a chemical agent for military use, could be used effectively for cancer treatment.
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