Introduction of Anti Cancer

By: Pharma Tips | Views: 11133 | Date: 28-Sep-2011

Anticancer, or antineoplastic, drugs are used to treat malignancies, or cancerous growths. Drug therapy may be used alone, or in combination with other treatments such as surgery or radiation therapy.

Anticancer, or antineoplastic, drugs are used to treat malignancies, or cancerous growths. Drug therapy may be used alone, or in combination with other treatments such as surgery or radiation therapy.

Cell Cycle

Cell proliferation is involved in many physiological and pathological processes including growth, healing, repair, hypertrophy, hyperplasia and the development of tumours. Angiogenesis (the development of new blood vessels) necessarily occurs during many of these processes.

Proliferating cells go through what is termed the cell cycle, during which the cell replicates all its components and then bisects itself into two identical daughter cells. Important components of the signalling pathways in proliferating cells are receptor tyrosine kinases or receptor-linked kinases, and the mitogen-activated kinase cascade. In all cases, the pathways eventually lead to transcription of the genes that control the cell cycle.


The cell cycle is an ordered series of events consisting of several sequential phases: G1, S, G2 and M.

•    M is the phase of mitosis
•    S is the phase of DNA synthesis
•    G1 is the gap between the mitosis that gave rise to the cell and the S phase; during G1, the cell is preparing for DNA synthesis
•    G2 is the gap between S phase and the mitosis that will give rise to two daughter cells; during G2, the cell is preparing for the mitotic division into two daughter cells.

Several classes of drugs may be used in cancer treatment, depending on the nature of the organ involved. For example, breast cancers are commonly stimulated by estrogens, and may be treated with drugs that inactivate the sex hormones. Similarly, prostate cancer may be treated with drugs that inactivate androgens, the male sex hormone. However, the majority of antineoplastic drugs act by interfering with cell growth. Since cancerous cells grow more rapidly than other cells, the drugs target those cells that are in the process of reproducing themselves. As a result, antineoplastic drugs will commonly affect not only the cancerous cells, but others cells that commonly reproduce quickly, including hair follicles, ovaries and testes, and the blood-forming organs.

Newer methods of antineoplastic drug therapy have taken different approaches, including angiogenesis—the inhibition of formation of blood vessels feeding the tumor and contributing to tumor growth. Although these approaches hold promise, they are not yet in common use. Developing new anticancer drugs is the work of ongoing research. In 2003, a new technique was developed to streamline the search for effective drugs. Researchers pumped more than 23,000 chemical compounds through a screening technique to identify those that help fight cancer while leaving healthy cells unharmed. The system identified nine compounds matching the profile, including one previously unidentified drug for fighting cancer. They have expanded their research to determine how the drug might be developed. This was an important step

Antineoplastic drugs may be divided into two classes: cycle specific and non-cycle specific. Cycle specific drugs act only at specific points of the cell's duplication cycle, such as anaphase or metaphase, while non-cycle specific drugs may act at any point in the cell cycle. In order to gain maximum effect, antineoplastic drugs are commonly used in combinations.

Because antineoplastic agents do not target specific cell types, they have a number of common adverse side effects. Hair loss is common due to the effects on hair follicles, and anemia, immune system impairment, and clotting problems are caused by destruction of the blood-forming organs, leading to a reduction in the number of red cells, white cells, and platelets. Because of the frequency and severity of these side effects, it is common to administer chemotherapy in cycles, allowing time for recovery from the drug effects before administering the next dose. Doses are often calculated, not on the basis of weight, but rather based on blood counts, in order to avoid dangerous levels of anemia (red cell depletion), neutropenia (white cell deficiency), or thrombocytopenia (platelet deficiency.)

The health professional has many responsibilities in dealing with patients undergoing chemotherapy. The patient must be well informed of the risks and benefits of chemotherapy, and must be emotionally prepared for the side effects. These may be permanent, and younger patients should be aware of the high risk of sterility after chemotherapy.

The patient must also know which side effects should be reported to the practitioner, since many adverse effects do not appear until several days after a dose of chemotherapy. When chemotherapy is self-administered, the patient must be familiar with proper use of the drugs, including dose scheduling and avoidance of drug-drug and food-drug interactions.

Appropriate steps should be taken to minimize side effects. These may include administration of antinauseant medications to reduce nausea and vomiting, maintaining fluid levels to reduce drug toxicity, particularly to the kidneys, or application of a scalp tourniquet to reduce blood flow to the scalp and minimize hair loss due to drug therapy.

Patients receiving chemotherapy also are at risk of infections due to reduced white blood counts. While prophylactic antibiotics may be useful, the health care professional should also be sure to use standard precautions, including gowns and gloves when appropriate. Patients should be alerted to avoid risks of viral contamination, and live virus immunizations are contraindicated until the patient has fully recovered from the effects of chemotherapy. Similarly, the patient should avoid contact with other people who have recently had live virus immunizations.

Other precautions which should be emphasized are the risks to pregnant or nursing women. Because antineoplastic drugs are commonly harmful to the fetus, women of childbearing potential should be cautioned to use two effective methods of birth control while receiving cancer chemotherapy. This also applies if the woman's male partner is receiving chemotherapy. Breastfeeding should be avoided while the mother is being treated.

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