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What Are the Different Types of Cancer Treatment Drugs?

Allison Boelcke
By
Updated May 17, 2024
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Cancer is a condition characterized by the abnormal development of cells, which can eventually damage or destroy normal cells. This can occur on most tissues or organs. Although cancer does not have a definitively proven cure, there are treatment options available that may stop the abnormal cell growth. Cancer treatment drugs are one of the most common options for treating the disease, but their effectiveness may depend on the type of cancer, how far it has progressed, and how a person’s body tolerates the drugs.

Chemotherapy refers to cancer treatment drugs that work by physically altering the structure or function of the molecule deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) of cancer cells. DNA contains the genetic information for living organisms and duplicates itself, and cancer cells have mutations in their DNA that may cause them to reproduce at abnormally fast rates. One of the most commonly used types of chemotherapy drugs are alkylating agents, which damage the DNA in cells, especially fast-growing cancer cells, and destroy them. Antimetabolites are another category of chemotherapy drugs that may be effective at treating cancer by preventing DNA from forming in cells, making them unable to divide into new cells. Chemotherapy may also damage or destroy normal, healthy cells and result in side effects like nausea, vomiting, hair loss, fatigue, and dry mouth.

Another one of the different types of cancer treatment drugs is immunotherapy drugs. The immune system is the body’s process of naturally fighting off foreign substances, such as disease, bacteria, or viruses, by the use of antibodies, which are proteins that destroy these substances. Some immunotherapy drugs are intended to help strengthen the natural immune system of a cancer patient, while other forms supplement the immune system with additional antibodies in the hopes of killing off cancer cells.

Hormone therapy drugs are cancer treatment drugs that may be prescribed for the treatment of cancer affecting sex organs, such as breast, ovarian, or prostate cancers. Hormones are chemicals produced and sent into the bloodstream by endocrine glands which are responsible for controlling various organs and tissue functions. Estrogen is the primary hormone which regulates female sexual development and function, while testosterone is the male sex hormone. If cancer cells are present in any of the sex organs, the cancer can continue to spread or grow as the body produces more sex hormones. Hormone therapy drugs may be used to treat cancer by keeping the body from making hormones that help cancer cells grow or by preventing the cancer cells from getting and using the hormones.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Allison Boelcke
By Allison Boelcke , Former Writer
Allison Boelcke, a digital marketing manager and freelance writer, helps businesses create compelling content to connect with their target markets and drive results. With a degree in English, she combines her writing skills with marketing expertise to craft engaging content that gets noticed and leads to website traffic and conversions. Her ability to understand and connect with target audiences makes her a valuable asset to any content creation team.

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Allison Boelcke

Allison Boelcke

Former Writer

Allison Boelcke, a digital marketing manager and freelance writer, helps businesses create compelling content to connect with their target markets and drive results. With a degree in English, she combines her writing skills with marketing expertise to craft engaging content that gets noticed and leads to website traffic and conversions. Her ability to understand and connect with target audiences makes her a valuable asset to any content creation team.
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