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What Is Thiotepa?

By Sarah Sullins
Updated May 17, 2024
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Thiotepa is a colorless drug used to treat several different types of cancerous tumors and lymphomas. This chemotherapy drug is also used to control the amount of fluid present in the body as a direct result of a person's cancer. It is known as an alkylating agent, which means it is able to stop some cancers from progressing under certain conditions.

The chemotherapy drug thiotepa is often used to treat breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Lymphomas, whether they are Hodgkins or non-Hodgkins, are often treated with this type of drug too. Other uses for this kind of chemotherapy include tumors on the bladder, certain carcinomas, and non-cancerous eye problems.

Thiotepa is usually given through intravenous drip, but may be injected directly in the vein. When it is used for bladder tumors, the drug is sometimes injected directly into the bladder through a catheter that is placed in the urethra. For eye problems that are non-cancerous, the drug comes in the form of eye drops.

Cancerous cells divide and reproduce rapidly. As an alkylating agent, thiotepa has the ability to slow down the diving cells so that they can more easily be killed. It is sometimes even able to stop the progression of the multiplying cells completely.

Like most types of chemotherapy, the drug can not tell what cells in the body are cancerous and what cells are normal, so good cells may be killed along with bad ones. When this happens, side effects occur. Some of the most common side effects that a person may experience are nausea, vomiting, bruising, and anemia. Many people also experience mouth sores, a feeling of weakness, and extreme fatigue.

Some other side effects can also occur, but are not as commonly seen. One of these side effects includes hair loss, but total hair loss is not always experienced. At times, the hair may just become brittle and thinner. Other side effects include changes in skin color, allergic reactions, and damage to the bone marrow. If the bone marrow is damaged, it may lead to problems like myelodysplasia and leukemia.

Chemotherapy using thiotepa is generally done in multiple cycles, as are many other types of chemotherapy. The amount of this drug that a person receives will generally depend on his or her height and weight. Other factors that can determine the amount given are the type of cancer a person has and the state of a person's health.

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