Alkylating Agents for Chemotherapy
How It Works
Why It Is Used
These chemotherapy medicines are used to treat cancer. For example, bendamustine, busulfan, chlorambucil, and cyclophosphamide are used to treat leukemia. Carboplatin, cisplatin, and oxaliplatin are used to treat other cancers, such as bladder, colorectal, endometrial, lung, ovarian, and testicular cancer. Cyclophosphamide is also used to treat many other forms of cancer, such as breast cancer, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and sarcoma.
How Well It Works
These medicines work well in treating cancer. But the type and extent of a cancer affects how well this medicine slows or stops the growth of those cancer cells.
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
Call your doctor right away if you have:
Alkylating agents can cause long-term damage to the bone marrow. In rare cases, people with cancer who are treated with these medicines can get leukemia years later. But carboplatin, cisplatin, and oxaliplatin (also called the platinum drugs) are less likely than the other alkylating agents to cause leukemia.
Common side effects of these medicines include:
These medicines may also cause:
Busulfan can cause pulmonary fibrosis and other serious problems in the lungs.
Cisplatin and oxaliplatin may cause:
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
You may not be able to become pregnant or father a child after taking these medicines. Discuss this with your doctor before starting treatment with any of these medicines.
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Advice for women
Do not use this medicine if you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant. If you need to use this medicine, talk to your doctor about how you can prevent pregnancy.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
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