Common chemotherapy medications

Common chemotherapy medications

Chemotherapy is the use of medication to kill tumor cells. Most chemotherapy is given intravenously. The selection and administration of chemotherapy is performed by medical oncologists. 

Chemotherapy is often administered in a series of “cycles”. Each cycle lasts 2-3 weeks and consists of one or more days of medication administration followed by 2 or more weeks of recovery. Typically four, six or more cycles are administered.

The agents most commonly used for malignant bone and soft tissue tumors, such as doxorubicin, ifosfomide and cis-platinum, cause many side effects including hair loss, nausea, weight loss, as well as low white blood cell and platelet counts.

We know with some malignant bone tumors (osteosarcoma, ewing’s sarcoma in particular) that chemotherapy significantly improves survival. However, the effectiveness   of chemotherapy for soft tissue sarcomas is less certain and therefore we recommend it only for selected patients.

Microscopic images showing the effect of chemotherapy on osteosarcoma: the tumor cells are killed leaving only the inert, calcified scaffolding