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classification of anti-cancer drugs .

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26 Dec 2021

Cancer is a disease of cells characterixed by progressive, persistent and uncantrolled proliferation of tissues.

major groups of anticancer drugs are:

1. Alkylation agents : It works by forming highly reactive carbonium ion which leads to transfer of alkyl group to various sites of DNA which in turn results in breakage in DNA strands which leads to cell death.

a. Nitrogen mustards: mechlorethamine , cyclophosphamide , chlorambicil

b. Alyl sulphonate:Busulphan

c.Nitrosoureas: carmustine, lomustine, streptozocin.

d.platinium based compounds: cisplatin, carboplatin.

e. Triazene:dacarbazine


2.Antimetabolites: They disrupt nucleic acid synthesis by interfering with production of major nucleotide metabolite .

  • Azactidine, 5-Flurouracil, leucovorin, gemcitabine, decitabine , hydroxyurea, 6-mercaptopurin, pemetrexed, cytarabine

3.Antitumor antibiotics :They have direct effect on DNA. they bind to DNA and block transcription of DNA.

  • Actinomycin D, bleomycin, mitomycin C , doxorubicin , epirubicin and daunorubicin .

4. Mitotic spindle agents: They disrupt cells microtubule function, as they are essential for cell reproduction it will inhibit cell division.

  • Doxorubicin, cabazitaxel, eribulin, vinblastine, vincristine and vinorelbine.

5.Topoisomerase inhibitors: They are derived from natural sources and work by interfering with DNA.

  • Etoposide, irinotecan, teniposide,and topotecan .

6. tyrosine kinase inhibitors :Tyrosine kinase helps in sending growth signals in cells, and blocking them stops cell growing and signaling .

  • Dasatinib, lapatinib, erlotinib, imatinib, crizotinib, and nilotinib.

7. Monoclonal antibodies: They causes a boost in the immune system that is responsible for membrane disruption of cancer cell.

  • Alemtuzumab, ipilimumab, ofatumumab, rituximab, transtuzumab and cetuximab.


  • L-asparginase


  • Oestrogens: Ethinyl estradiol, fosfestrol.
  • Selective oestrogen receptor modulator: Tamoxifen
  • Androgens: Testosterone propionate
  • Antiandrogen: Flutamide
  • GnRH analogues: buserelin, goserelin, nafarelin.


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Nishi Sheth

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