The goal of cancer chemotherapy is to damage or destroy cancer cells without killing normal cells. The type of chemotherapy treatment used depends on the treatment goals for the type and extent of the cancer being treated. Curative chemotherapy is used to eliminate cancer cells and to achieve a permanent cure for the patient. Adjuvant chemotherapy is given after surgical resection of the cancer to eliminate undetectable microscopic cancer cells. This method lowers recurrence rates in these patients. The goal of neoadjuvant chemotherapy is to shrink large tumors that would be too large for total resection, potentially creating a less invasive surgical procedure. Palliative chemotherapy is used when it is no longer possible to remove all the cancer cells; this option can provide the patient with symptomatic relief, slow the progression of tumor growth, and help avoid complications from the tumor.
Table 13-3 Antineoplastic Drugs
Natural products, meaning agents that either are naturally occurring or have been synthetically modified, have played a significant role in cancer chemotherapy and include a variety of agents, the most common of which are alkylating agents, antimetabolites, plant alkaloids, and antitumor antibiotics (Table 13-3).
Excerpted from BCSC 2020-2021 series: Section 1 - Update on General Medicine. For more information and to purchase the entire series, please visit https://www.aao.org/bcsc.