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Antineoplastic agents are medications used to treat cancer. Except for the usual antineoplastics, there are other medications that can be also used to treat various forms of cancer, particularly acute lymphoblastic leukemia or ALL, ovarian cancer, and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.
Other antineoplastics that are commonly used include asparaginase, and pegaspargase, which are given intramuscularly or intravenously to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia, as well as altretamine, which is taken orally to treat ovarian cancer. Then there’s azacitidine, a medication that can be administered orally, intravenously or subcutaneously to treat myelodysplastic syndrome or acute myeloid leukemia; hydroxyurea, which is administered orally in clients with chronic myeloid leukemia or head and neck cancer; and irinotecan, which is administered intravenously to clients with metastatic colorectal cancer.
Once administered, what asparaginase and Pegaspargase do is break down asparagine, which is a non-essential amino acid, into aspartic acid and ammonia. Cancer cells can’t synthesize asparagine themselves, so this impairs their protein synthesis, ultimately stopping cellular processes and causing apoptosis.
On the other hand, the way altretamine works is not perfectly clear, but it could damage cancer cells by crosslinking of DNA, which means the agent links two DNA bases together, forming cross-bridges. Cross-linking prevents DNA from being separated for essential cell processes, like replication or transcription, eventually resulting in cancer cell death and stopping the multiplication of cancer cells.
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