How Do Different Types of Chemo Drugs Work?
Chemotherapy is the most common cancer treatment. It is prescribed to cancer patients for a number of reasons wherein the first is that this therapy involves the use of drugs (injections, tablets, or capsules) to destroy cancer cells. Medications are easy to administer and effective when taken at the right intervals. Also, chemotherapeutic drugs circulate to almost every part of the body. With such benefits, these medications come in different types and forms.
Chemotherapy drugs are categorized as:
· Alkylating agents
These medicines influence the growth or reproduction of cancer cells by working directly on DNA. Alkylating agents kill the cancer cells in almost every phase of their life cycle. Its common examples are Altretamine, Bendamustine, Cisplatin, and Busulfan.
Medications under this category interfere with the action of certain enzymes that are responsible for DNA repair. Unlike many chemotherapeutic medications, Nitrosoureas can travel through the brain. Some of its examples are Carmustine, Lomustine, and Semustine.
Medicines that belong to antimetabolites work by interfering with the DNA and RNA of the cells. Specifically, such drugs come into action when cancer cells start to divide in the body. Examples of anti-metabolites are Gemcitabine, Hydroxycarbamide, and Methotrexate.
· Plant alkaloids and natural products
Medications that are made from natural products are known as plant alkaloids. Such regimens hinder the process of cell repair. Also, they work by interfering with the cell division in the body. Its most common examples are Morphine, Paclitaxel, and Vincristine.
· Antitumor antibiotics
Antitumor antibiotics are medications that are made using microorganisms. However, these drugs are not similar to antibiotics that treat infections. Medications under this category break up the DNA strands. They also prevent cell growth. Doxorubicin Hydrochloride Pegylated Liposomal is its most common example.
· Hormonal agents
The drugs that interfere with the growth and mechanism of hormones released in the body are called hormonal agents. They are of two types: sex hormones and corticosteroid hormones. These medicines do not aim to kill cells, unlike other chemotherapy agents. However, hormonal agents starve the cells of the essential nutrients so that they die automatically.
· Biological response modifiers
The chemotherapy drugs that work by strengthening the immune system of the patient are referred to as biological response modifiers. More significantly, such medications stimulate the immune response to fight cancer cells. Examples of biological response modifiers are Rituxan, Erbitux, and Avastin.
Chemotherapy is given as an injection through a vein (into the bloodstream), a drip through a vein into the bloodstream, tablets, and capsules. Each of its types has different mechanisms of action. With such differences, every drug plays an important role in treating cancer in specific cases.