Chemotherapy medications target cells at different phases of the formation of malignant (cancerous) cells. Malignant cells tend to form more quickly than original cells, making them a better target for chemotherapy medications. However, it is difficult for the chemotherapy medicines to tell the difference between normal cells and malignant cells. This is the reason why normal cells are damaged along with cancer cells, resulting in side effects.
There are more than 100 chemotherapy medicines available that are used to treat cancer. They are grouped by their chemical structure and their relationship with other medications. It is important to know the type of chemical and its group as it can help manage the side effects. Here are six main types of chemotherapy medications available in the market:
These medications interfere with RNA and DNA growth by substituting for the normal building blocks. The process of substitution damages malignant cells during their growth and progression. Antimetabolites are used to treat cancers of the breast, ovaries, and intestines. These medications are also used to treat leukemia.
Alkylating agents prevent malignant cells from reproducing by damaging it on a genetic level. These medications work in phases of the cell cycle and are used to treat cancers such as multiple myeloma, sarcoma, and Hodgkin disease. It is important to note here that alkylating agents can damage the bone marrow that produces new blood cells. As a result, it can lead to leukemia in rare cases. However, suffering from leukemia depends on the amount of dosage of the medicine as there is a small risk with lower doses.
Unlike, antibiotics used to treat infections, anti-tumor antibiotics work by changing DNA inside the cancer cells, which stops them from multiplying and growing. Anthracyclines are anti-tumor antibiotics interfering with enzymes involved with replicating DNA during the cell cycle. However, there is a great concern while administering these medications as high doses can permanently damage the heart.
These are naturally occurring compounds derived from plants. Mitotic inhibitors work by stopping the malignant cells from dividing. They can also damage the cells in all phases by keeping the enzymes from generating protein needed for cell reproduction. They are used to treat different types of cancer such as breast, lung, lymphomas and myeloma cancers. Mitotic inhibitors can cause nerve damage. Hence, oncologists usually limit the amount of this medication by combining it with a less aggressive drug.
These inhibitors interfere with an enzyme called topoisomerase. The enzyme separates DNA strands so that they cannot be replicated further. Topoisomerase inhibitors can be used to treat lung, ovarian, gastrointestinal, and other forms of cancer. However, Topoisomerase II inhibitors can increase the risk of second cancer which can be in the form of acute myelogenous leukemia. So, discuss its usage and precautions:
This medication are simply called steroids. Corticosteroids natural hormone-like medications that are used in treating certain forms of cancers as well as other illnesses. Corticosteroids are also used to prevent nausea and vomiting that are caused by other chemotherapy mediations.