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Chemotherapy Drugs

Chemotherapy is a type of treatment for cancer which administers powerful anti-cancer drugs into the body either through external means or in some cases from internal delivery systems.  The drugs used are specialized medications which have the ability to travel through the bloodstream and then detect cells which exhibit rapid and abnormal growth rates.  These drugs react with these cells and ultimately destroy them.  Since cancer cells have the distinct feature of rapid growth this can be a very effective way of identifying and destroying cancer cells throughout the body.  However this is not without its drawbacks since the drugs used also have the tendency to attack other healthy cells which also show very rapid growth rates.  But advancements and improvements in the drugs used and delivery systems applied which can limit the damage to healthy tissues.  There are over fifty different types of drugs used in this type of treatment and we will discuss some of the more common chemotherapy drugs.  

The specific types of chemotherapy drugs administered will depend a lot on the kind of cancer involved, its stage of development and factors related to the patient such as age and health.  However some of the more common chemo drugs used can include the following: 

  • Carbonplatin – This drug is used primarily for head, neck, lung and ovarian cancers.  It is normally administered intravenously.  This drug can cause a number of side effects including hair loss, nausea, vomiting, lowered blood cell count, and confusion. 
  • Cisplatin – Used for the treatment of testicular cancer as well as cancer of the bladder and ovaries.  It is normally administered intravenously.  The side effects associated with the use of this drug can include ringing in the ears, nausea, lowered blood count, and possible kidney damage as a result of the drug passing through this organ. 
  • Cyclphosphamide – This drug can be used to treat breast cancer, cancer of the lymph system, and some forms of ovarian cancer.  It is usually taken in pill or liquid form but can also be administered intravenously.  Common side effects associated with the application of this drug can include nausea, vomiting loss of hair, problems with fertility, damage to the lungs and heart, and lower blood count. 
  • Docetaxel – This drug is usually given to treat cancer of the lungs, prostate and breasts.  It is normally administered intravenously.  The side effects which can be expected usually include thinning of the hair, rash, nausea, vomiting, and numbness in the hands and feet. 
  • Doxorubicin – This drug is often used to treat more advanced cases of myeloma, lymphoma and breast cancer.  It is usually administered intravenously.  And the common side effects which can be expected include mouth ulcers, vomiting, nausea, fatigue, heart problems, and hair loss. 
  • Flourouracil – This is a commonly used drug which can treat cancer of the breast, stomach, head, neck, and colon.  The drug is usually administered intravenously.  Common side effects include sensitivity to light, mouth ulcers, dry skin, and diarrhea.

There are many other types of chemotherapy drugs used both individually and in combination.  Your doctor will discuss the planned course of treatment and identify the drugs he plans to use.  There is a great deal of additional information available on all of these drugs so you would be well advised to learn more about them so you have a better understanding of what to expect.  This can help to alleviate some of the concern associated with treatment and put you in a better frame of mind to deal with the process and procedure.