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Cancer Medicines

This page offers a very general idea about the medicines used to treat or control cancer. Since there are many types of treatment and medicines for cancer and, therefore, patients and their attendents are easily confused. The best way to understand about your cancer medicine is to ask details with your doctor. Cancer medicines are given as either maintenance or as required. Pain killers usually fall consumed when needed, while maintenance medicines are taken as per schedule. It is important that you understand the difference and don't fall into the trap of taking these medicines too often.

Cancer medicines can be categorized as follows:

Major classes of synthetic anti cancer medicines:


Class of medicine Examples
1. Cytotoxic Medicines nitrosourea, cyclophosphamide, melphelan, chlorambucil,platinum compounds, temezolomide
a. Medicines that bind to DNA (alkylating agents) methotrexate, raltitrexed, 5-fluorouracil, gemcitabine,hydroxyurea, 6-mercaptopurine, azathioprine, 6-thioguanine,fludarabine, pentostatin,
b. Medicines that interfere with the assembly of the DNA building blocks (antimetabolites) epipodophyllotoxin, camptothecin, irinotecan, topotecan,doxorubicin
c. Medicines that interfere with the uncoiling of DNA (topoisomerase inhibitors) actinomycin D, daunorubicin, mitoxantrone, bleomicin
d. Anti-tumour antibiotics vinca alkaloids, paclitaxel, docetaxel
e. Medicines that interfere with cell separation (microtubule inhibitors)  
2. Hormone-based Medicine.  
a. LHRH analogues, anti-androgens goserelin, buserelin, triptorelin bicalutamide, flutamide,cetrorelix, leuprorelin, tamoxifen
b. Aromatase inhibitors anastrozole, exemestane, formestane, letrozole


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