cytotoxic drug


cytotoxic drug
any drug that damages or destroys cells: usually refers to those drugs used to treat various types of cancer. There are various classes of cytotoxic drugs, including alkylating agents (e.g. chlorambucil, cyclophosphamide, melphalan), antimetabolite (e.g. fluorouracil, methotrexate, mercaptopurine), anthracycline antibiotics (e.g. doxorubicin, daunorubicin, dactinomycin), vinca alkaloid, and platinum compounds (e.g. carboplatin, cisplatin). (See also taxane, topoisomerase inhibitor.) These drugs offer successful treatment in some conditions and help reduce symptoms and prolong life in others. Cytotoxic drugs destroy cancer cells by interfering with cell division, but they also affect normal cells, causing side-effects, particularly in bone marrow, skin, stomach lining, and fetal tissue; dosage must therefore be carefully controlled. See also chemotherapy.

Medical dictionary. 2011.

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