Cancer medicine: principles of treating malignant disease: Part two: medical treatment
Carlo Palmieri and Anjana Singh discuss the available options
This second article deals with the non-surgical or medical treatments and aims to provide an overview of this area of medicine. Current medical treatments or modalities include chemotherapy, radiotherapy, endocrine therapy, immunotherapy, and monoclonal antibodies.
There are six basic facts you should know: Chemotherapy or cytotoxic agents are drugs which interfere with cell division by preventing DNA synthesis or interacting with DNA leading to breaks in the structure.They are non-selective and will affect any cell which is rapidly dividing, whether it is malignant or non-malignant.Cytotoxics are usually given in combination, with drugs which interfere with replication at different phases of the cell cycle being used. This improves their effectiveness and reduces the likelihood of the development of drug resistance by the tumour.Chemotherapy is given every 21 to 28 days to allow recovery of the bone marrow.Each treatment is called a cycle and usually a course of chemotherapy involves a number