Skip to Content
Home > Health Resources > Alkylating Agents for Chemotherapy
View Additional Section Content
These chemotherapy medicines are classified as alkylating agents. Alkylating agents are medicines that directly damage the DNA inside cancer cells. This prevents the cancer cells from multiplying.
These chemotherapy medicines are used to treat cancer. For example, bendamustine, busulfan, chlorambucil, and cyclophosphamide are used to treat leukemia. Carboplatin, cisplatin, and oxaliplatin are used to treat other cancers, such as bladder, colorectal, endometrial, lung, ovarian, and testicular cancer. Cyclophosphamide is also used to treat many other forms of cancer, such as breast cancer, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and sarcoma.
These medicines work well in treating cancer. But the type and extent of a cancer affects how well this medicine slows or stops the growth of those cancer cells.
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:
Call your doctor right away if you have:
Alkylating agents can cause long-term damage to the bone marrow. In rare cases, people with cancer who are treated with these medicines can get leukemia years later. But carboplatin, cisplatin, and oxaliplatin (also called the platinum drugs) are less likely than the other alkylating agents to cause leukemia.
Common side effects of these medicines include:
These medicines may also cause:
Busulfan can cause pulmonary fibrosis and other serious problems in the lungs.
Cisplatin and oxaliplatin may cause:
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference
is not available in all systems.)
You may not be able to become pregnant or father a child after
taking these medicines. Discuss this with your doctor before starting treatment
with any of these medicines.
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Do not use this medicine if you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant. If you need to use this medicine, talk to your doctor about how you can prevent pregnancy.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
December 12, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Brian Leber, MDCM, FRCPC - Hematology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
2700 Clay Edwards Drive, Ste 240, North Kansas City, MO 64116