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What Is the Relationship between Cyclophosphamide and Cancer?

By H. Lo
Updated May 17, 2024
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The relationship between cyclophosphamide and cancer is that cyclophosphamide is used to treat certain types of cancer. Like many other medications used to treat cancer, cyclophosphamide fights the disease by targeting cancer cells. More specifically, cyclophosphamide slows and stops cancer cells from dividing and growing which, in turn, fights the cancer spreading.

Some basic background information on the difference between normal cells and cancer cells might help in understanding how the relationship between cyclophosphamide and cancer works. Essentially, the human body is made up of cells that perform a variety of functions, and as old cells die, new ones take their place. Cancer cells behave in a different manner and are dangerous because not only do they grow at a quick rate, but they do not die on their own. As such, these cancer cells clump together and form tumors, which can cause health problems for an affected individual and can lead to death. The purpose of cyclophosphamide, then, is to help destroy cancer cells.

Cyclophosphamide and cancer do not necessarily have a unique relationship as cyclophosphamide is sometimes used to treat other conditions, and cancer itself can be treated with other methods as well. At the same time, although there are different medical uses and treatments for cyclophosphamide and cancer, respectively, the primary use of cyclophosphamide is to treat cancer. Among others, types of cancer that the medication is used to treat include breast cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma. In addition, cyclophosphamide also treats mycosis fungoides, ovarian cancer and retinoblastoma.

The type of cyclophosphamide treatment a patient receives depends on his or her own specific condition. He or she might use the medication in tablet form, or intravenously. The treatment itself can be used alone or it can accompany another form of cancer treatment. As with any other medication, cyclophosphamide can cause a patient to experience side effects. Some side effects, such as hair loss, are typical because in the process of destroying cancer cells, cyclophosphamide also destroys normal, healthy cells as well.

Other side effects of cyclophosphamide, which might or might not relate to the loss of healthy cells, include abdominal pain, loss of appetite and mouth or tongue sores. Side effects that are more serious include abnormal bleeding or bruising, allergic reaction and infection. Unlike the more common side effects, serious side effects require immediate medical attention. The same goes for symptoms that indicate an overdose. Symptoms of an overdose include chest pain, red-colored urine and unusual weakness.

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