Chemotherapy (often abbreviated to chemo and sometimes CTX or CTx) is a type of cancer treatment that uses one or more chemotherapeutic agents (anti-cancer drugs) to destroy rapidly growing cells in the body, such as cancer cells which grow and divide faster than other cells in the body. Chemotherapy is primarily used to lower the total number of cancerous cells in the body and shrink tumour size. In the case of advanced stage cancers, chemotherapy may help to relieve pain.
The use of chemotherapy to treat cancer began at the start of the 20th century. Several attempts were made to narrow down the chemicals that might affect the disease by developing various methods to screen chemicals using transplantable tumours in the rodents. Chemotherapy was first coined as a word in the early 1900s by a German chemist Paul Ehrlich, who defined it as the use of chemicals to treat disease.
During World War I, mustard gas was used as a chemical warfare agent. It was discovered that the gas was a potent suppressor of haematopoiesis (blood production). Similarly, nitrogen mustards were studied during World War II after the effects of an accidental spill of sulphur mustards on troops from a bombed ship in Bari Harbour, Italy. This incident led to an observation that both bone marrow and lymph nodes were marked depleted in those who were exposed to mustard gas. It was believed that an agent which could damage the rapidly growing white blood cells might have a similar effect on cancer. The first chemotherapeutic drug developed from this research was Mustine (chlormethine, sold under the brand name of Mustargen). Sidney Farber collaborated with Lederle Laboratories to develop a series of folic acid analogues. These compounds included aminopterin and amethopterin, now known as methotrexate. Farber tested these antifolate compounds in children with leukaemia and in 1948, the results of these tests showed unquestionable remissions. Farber is regarded as the father of modern chemotherapy.
In the mid-1950s, Charles Heidelberger and his colleagues developed a drug that was aimed at non-hematologic cancers. Heidelberger â€œtargetedâ€ a biochemical pathway by attaching a fluorine atom to the 5-position of the uracil pyrimidine base which resulted in the synthesis of fluoropyrimidine 5-fluorouracil (5-FU). This agent was found to have broad-spectrum activity against a range of solid tumours and to this day, remains the cornerstone for the treatment of colorectal cancer. This agent represents the very first example of targeted therapy which has now become a focus in current cancer drug development, although the target, in this case, was a biochemical pathway instead of a molecular pathway.
1) Alkylating agents are the oldest group of chemotherapeutics in use today. There are several types of alkylating agents used in chemotherapy treatments such as:
Chemotherapy can produce adverse side effects that range from mild to severe, depending on the type and extent of the treatment. Some people may experience adverse to a few side effects which vary from person to person and the stage of cancer. Toxicities related to chemotherapy can occur acutely within hours to days, or chronically, after weeks to years.
Some common side effects of chemotherapy are:
Luckily, due to advancement in medical research, ayurvedic drugs such as Cancertame when taken along with chemotherapy can minimize such side effects providing for a better integrative treatment for cancer patients.
The practice of utilizing chemotherapy for the treatment of cancer began in the 1940s and still remains a fundamental treatment for various types of cancer. Given the poisonous origin of chemotherapy, patients receiving these treatments experienced some severe side effects which create a demand for new treatment management protocols. Research over the past 30 years has led to the discovery of medications aimed at reducing the side effects of chemotherapy.
This content is for information and educational purposes only and should not be perceived as medical advice. Please consult a certified medical or healthcare professional before making any decision regarding your health using the content above.
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