Chemotherapy drugs

chemotherapy drugs

What is the strongest chemo drug?

When is chemotherapy used?

What are the most common chemotherapy drugs?
How long do you take oral chemotherapy?
 
What is the name of chemo pills?

More than 100 chemotherapy or chemo drugs are used to treat cancer either alone or in combination with other drugs or treatments. These drugs are very different in their chemical composition, how they are taken, their usefulness in treating specific forms of cancer, and their side effects.

Chemotherapy drugs target cells at different phases of the process of forming new cells, called the cell cycle. Understanding how these drugs work helps doctors predict which drugs are likely to work well together. Doctors can also plan how often doses of each drug should be given based on the timing of the cell phases.

Chemo drugs can be grouped by how they work, their chemical structure, and their relationships to other drugs. Some drugs work in more than one way, and may belong to more than one group.

 

 

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The most common chemotherapy drugs and combinations used to treat breast cancer are listed below in alphabetical order:

  • AC 

AC is a combination of two chemotherapy drugs used to treat breast cancer.

It takes its name from the initials of these drugs:

  1. doxorubicin (also known as Adriamycin)
  2. cyclophosphamide
  • capecitabine (Xeloda)

Capecitabine is a type of oral chemotherapy drug, which means that it is taken as tablets.

Capecitabine is the generic (non-branded) name of the drug, but you may also hear it called Xeloda, which is its brand name.

  • carboplatin

Carboplatin is a chemotherapy drug used to treat breast cancer.

Chemotherapy destroys cancer cells using anti-cancer drugs.

  • cisplatin

Cisplatin is a chemotherapy drug used to treat breast cancer

Chemotherapy destroys cancer cells using anti-cancer drugs.

  • CMF

CMF is a combination of three chemotherapy drugs.

It takes its name from the initials of these drugs:

  1. cyclophosphamide
  2. methotrexate
  3. 5 fluorouracil (also known as 5FU)
  • docetaxel (Taxotere)

Docetaxel is a chemotherapy drug used to treat breast cancer.

Docetaxel is the generic (non-branded) name of the drug, but you may hear it called by one of its brand names such as Taxotere.

  • EC

EC is a combination of two chemotherapy drugs used to treat breast cancer.

It takes its name from the initials of these drugs:

  1. epirubicin
  2. cyclophosphamide
  • EC-T (a combination of EC and paclitaxel)
  • E-CMF

E-CMF is a combination of four chemotherapy drugs used to treat breast cancer.

It takes its name from the initials of these drugs:

  1. E – epirubicin
  2. C – cyclophosphamide
  3. M – methotrexate
  4. F – 5 fluorouracil (5FU) 
  • eribulin (Halaven)

Eribulin is a chemotherapy drug used to treat breast cancer. It’s also known by the brand name Halaven.

Chemotherapy destroys cancer cells using anti-cancer drugs. 

  • FEC

FEC is a combination of three chemotherapy drugs used to treat breast cancer. 

It takes its name from the initials of the drugs:

  1. 5 fluorouracil (also known as 5FU) 
  2. epirubicin 
  3. cyclophosphamide

FEC destroys cancer cells by interfering with their ability to divide and grow. 

  • FEC-T

FEC-T is a combination of four chemotherapy drugs used to treat breast cancer.

 It takes its name from the initials of these drugs: 

  1. 5 fluorouracil (also known as 5FU) 
  2. epirubicin 
  3. cyclophosphamide 
  4. docetaxel (also known as Taxotere) 

FEC-T destroys cancer cells by interfering with their ability to divide and grow.

  • gemcitabine (Gemzar)

Gemcitabine is a chemotherapy drug used to treat breast cancer. It’s also known by the brand name Gemzar.

  • paclitaxel (Taxol)

Paclitaxel is a chemotherapy drug used to treat breast cancer.

Paclitaxel is the generic (non-branded) name of the drug, but you may hear it called by one of its brand names such as Taxol.

  • vinorelbine (Navelbine)

Vinorelbine is a chemotherapy drug used to treat breast cancer. It’s also known by the brand name Navelbine.

Vinorelbine works by stopping cancer cells from dividing and multiplying, which blocks the growth of the cancer.

 

 

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What is the strongest chemo drug?

Doxorubicin (Adriamycin) is one of the most powerful chemotherapy drugs ever invented. It can kill cancer cells at every point in their life cycle, and it's used to treat a wide variety of cancers. Unfortunately, the drug can also damage heart cells, so a patient can't take it indefinitely.

When is chemotherapy used?
  • After surgery (adjuvant chemotherapy): Adjuvant chemo might be given to try to kill any cancer cells that might have been left behind or have spread but can't be seen, even on imaging tests. If these cells were allowed to grow, they could form new tumors in other places in the body. Adjuvant chemo can lower the risk of breast cancer coming back.
  • Before surgery (neoadjuvant chemotherapy):Neoadjuvant chemo might be given to try to shrink the tumor so it can be removed with less extensive surgery. Because of this, neoadjuvant chemo is often used to treat cancers that are too big to be removed by surgery when first diagnosed (called locally advanced cancers). Also, by giving chemo before the tumor is removed, doctors can see how the cancer responds to it. If the first set of chemo drugs doesn’t shrink the tumor, your doctor will know that other drugs are needed. It should also kill any cancer cells that have spread but can't be seen. Just like adjuvant chemo, neoadjuvant chemo can lower the risk of breast cancer coming back.  

For certain types of breast cancer, if there are tumor cells still found at the time of surgery (also called residual disease), you may be offered more chemotherapy after surgery to reduce the chances of the cancer coming back (recurrence).

  • For advanced breast cancer:Chemo can be used as the main treatment for women whose cancer has spread outside the breast and underarm area, either when it is diagnosed or after initial treatments. The length of treatment depends on how well the chemo is working and how well you tolerate it.

 

 

What are the most common chemotherapy drugs?
Neulasta

This cancer drug has been specifically developed to combat a particular side effect of breast cancer chemotherapy - neutropenia - which is a low count of white blood cells that leaves patients vulnerable to infection. Taken after each cycle of chemo, Neulasta works by stimulating bone marrow to produce more white blood cells which helps the body restore its ability to fight infection. The drug has proven effective in cutting down the duration of severe neutropenia to 1.7 days instead of 5-7 days.

Ibrance

Ibrance, a targeted biologic therapy used for chemotherapy, has been developed to treat breast cancer - the most common type of cancer. The drug has been approved to use on advanced and secondary cases of breast cancer, and is administered in combination with a hormone therapy. Ibrance works by blocking the effects oestrogen (a female hormone), which stimulates the growth of tumours. This helps slow down the progress of the disease. In November 2018, a phase 3 trial showed that when Ibrance was combined with Faslodex, it significantly extended the lives of patients with advanced breast cancer, suggesting that the drug could soon be used as a new standard of care. 

Opdivo

Opdivo is an immuno-therapy that uses a monoclonal antibody to stimulate the body's immune system to kill cancer cells. The drug has been approved to treat a multitude of different cancers, including skin, lung, head and neck, bladder and classical Hodgkin lymphoma. Various studies into the effectiveness of Opdivo on different cancers suggested that it extended the life of 73% of skin cancer patients, 66% of lymphoma patients and 66.5% of bladder cancer patients.

Imbruvica

Another bestselling oncology drug is tyrosine inhibitor Imbruvica. The drug is used to treat various B cell cancers such as mantle cell lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and Waldenstrӧm’s macroglobulinemia (a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma). According to a recent study, patients being treated with Imbruvica experienced a much better quality of life than those taking similar drugs. The drug also reportedly has a superior adverse event profile and was better tolerated by patients

 Zytiga

Zytiga is a hormone therapy drug developed to treat prostate cancer, the most prevalent cancer in men. The drug treats patients with prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. As prostate cancer needs testosterone in order to spread, Zytiga works by blocking the enzyme, cytochrome p17, that helps produce it. This causes the tumour to either shrink or slow down. 

Keytruda

Immuno-therapy cancer drug, Keytruda, is made up of antibodies that boosts the body's ability to trigger an anti-tumour response that helps it attack cancer cells. It has been approved to treat many types of cancer, including non-small cell lung, classical Hodgkin lymphoma, melanoma, gastric and cervical cancer Trials have shown a 44% reduction in risk of death or the disease worsening with Keytruda. 

Rituxan

Rituxan (rituximab) is just one of Roche’s many cancer biologic success stories. The monoclonal antibody is used to treat many types of blood cancer including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and some leukaemias, as well as for other diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and vasculitis. The antibody works by attaching to B cells that will cause the cell to die (apoptosis). 

Avastin

Making the top three cancer drugs in 2018 is Avastin (bevacizumab), taking another spot in Roche’s star portfolio of blockbuster oncology drugs.  The monoclonal antibody drug works by reducing the supply of oxygen and nutrients to a tumour and preventing the growth of new blood vessels. Contributing to its success is its ability to treat a variety of cancers including kidney, cervical, ovarian and brain tumours.

Herceptin

The second top selling cancer drug, Herceptin (trastuzumab) another monoclonal antibody developed by Roche. The breast cancer drug is administered via injection and works by attaching itself to HER2 receptors on cancer cells to stop them from growing. Boasting a very high survival rate, Roche is currently looking to improve efficacy further by developing combination drugs. Back in 2017, various biopharmaceutical companies were granted permission to begin making Herceptin biosimilars that are now becoming accessible in large markets worldwide. In 2018, biosimilars Tranzimera (USA) and Ontruzant (Europe) were approved, providing more access for patients to this life-saving drug. 

Revlimid

Top of the best cancer drug list is Celgene's Revlimid (lenalidomide). This drug has been very successful in the treatment of multiple myeloma as it promotes immune responses that slow tumour growth. It is also used to treat myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). Prior to the development of Revlimid, prognosis for patients diagnosed with multiple myeloma was poor so in the years following the drug’s entry to market, survival rates have soared.

 

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How long do you take oral chemotherapy?

Oral chemotherapy (chemo) is medicine used to shrink a tumor or kill cancer cells. Oral chemo is usually taken at home as a pill or liquid. How often and how long you get chemo will depend on the type of cancer you have. It will also depend on the type of chemo you need, side effects, and how well the chemo works. You may be given more than one medicine at a time. You may take oral chemo daily, weekly, or once or twice a month. Chemo is often given in cycles over a period of several months or more. This means that you will get the medicine for a period of time, and then you will have a break from it. This allows your body to grow new, healthy cells.

 

 

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10 common questions about chemotherapy drugs

1What drugs are used in chemotherapy?
Drugs in this group include 5-fluorouracil, 6-mercaptopurine, cytarabine, gemcitabine, and methotrexate, among many others. Anthracycline chemotherapy attacks the enzymes inside cancer cells' DNA that help them divide and grow. They work for many types of cancer
2What is the strongest chemo drug?
Doxorubicin (Adriamycin) is one of the most powerful chemotherapy drugs ever invented. It can kill cancer cells at every point in their life cycle, and it's used to treat a wide variety of cancers. Unfortunately, the drug can also damage heart cells, so a patient can't take it indefinitely
3How does chemotherapy kill cancer cells?
Usually, cancer drugs work by damaging the RNA or DNA that tells the cell how to copy itself in division. If the cancer cells are unable to divide, they die. The faster that cancer cells divide, the more likely it is that chemotherapy will kill the cells, causing the tumor to shrink
4What exactly does chemotherapy do?
How does chemotherapy work? It targets cells that grow and divide quickly, as cancer cells do. Unlike radiation or surgery, which target specific areas, chemo can work throughout your body. But it can also affect some fast-growing healthy cells, like those of the skin, hair, intestines, and bone marrow
5Can you die from chemo?
But chemotherapy does a lot more than get rid of cancer. While these drugs are powerful enough to kill rapidly growing cancer cells, they also can harm healthy cells. ... While most side effects clear up shortly after treatment ends, some may continue well after chemotherapy has ended. And some may never go away
6Can antibiotics be taken during chemo?
Infections are typically the biggest complication of chemotherapy, and antibiotics are commonly prescribed to prevent and treat them. ... They found that one of the newest of these -- CAR T-cell therapy -- is not affected by antibiotics, likely because it is not so reliant on the innate immune system
7At what stage of cancer is chemotherapy used?
Metastatic cancer is considered stage IV. Chemotherapy is used to treat advanced-stage breast cancer by destroying or damaging the cancer cells as much as possible. Because chemotherapy medicines affect the entire body, chemotherapy is commonly used to treat advanced-stage breast cancer
8What are cytotoxic chemotherapy drugs?
Cytotoxic drugs or cytostatics (also cytotoxic chemotherapy) are drugs used to destroy cancer cells. Cytotoxic drugs inhibit cell division and in this way cause cancer cells to die. Cytotoxic drugs are transported in the bloodstream throughout the body.
9How many rounds of chemo is normal?
Most chemotherapy treatments are given in repeating cycles. The length of a cycle depends on the treatment being given. Most cycles range from 2 to 6 weeks. The number of treatment doses scheduled within each cycle also varies depending on the drugs being given
10How many rounds of chemo can you have?
You may need four to eight cycles to treat your cancer. A series of cycles is called a course. Your course can take 3 to 6 months to complete -- and you may need more than one course of chemo to beat the cancer. The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania: “Chemotherapy: The Basics.”

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