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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Chemotherapy Actions:

Chemotherapy agents can act in two principal ways: disrupting cell reproduction (cell division) or physically destroying cancer cells. The process of cell reproduction is complicated and has several different and distinct stages. The first treatment approach uses chemotherapies that act at several different times during cell replication process. Such drugs are called Alkylating agents.

No matter how it’s done, when a cancer cell is blocked from replicating itself, the tumor stops growing. Unfortunately, many of these agents will have that effect on ANY fast replicating cell. Since we can’t protect our healthy fast replicating cells, sperm, white and red blood cells, we often get nasty side effects such as low blood counts that may interfere with treatment if unresolved.

Recently, research scientists have discovered ways to begin producing chemical agents that only target specific types of cells. In some cases it has been possible to target specific subgroups of cancer cells, known to replicate themselves by using a specific receptor. One day soon, we hope to have unique chemical poisons for each type of tumor. Then we can spare the regular cells from the side effects of the treatment. Such targeted chemotherapies are not yet in standard clinical use but are being investigated in clinical trials.

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