How do chemotherapy drugs interact chemically with cancer cells to get rid of the cancerous cells?

Question by xixsarah19: How do chemotherapy drugs interact chemically with cancer cells to get rid of the cancerous cells?
I have to give a chemistry project tomorrow in class and I need to have a basic understanding of what goes on chemically between chemotherapy drugs and the cancerous cells. Like what element interacts with what and how the chemo drugs stop the cancer cells from replicating. If anyone even has a most basic chemical explanation as to what occurs I would really appreciate it.

Best answer:

Answer by april
Drugs that are effective in treating cancer interfere with the activity of cancer cells, either by going in directly to sabotage a specific phase of cell development or by sending confusing messages that cause the cells to do the wrong thing and thereby destroy themselves. Not all drugs are effective against all cancers, and the different groups of drugs act in different way.

Alkylating agents: Interfere with cell division and affect the cancer cells in all phases of their life cycle. They confuse the DNA by directly reacting with it.
Anti-metabolites: Interfere with the cell’s ability for normal metabolism; they either give the cells wrong information or block the formation of “building block” chemical reactions which the cell needs to replicate itself.
These are phase-specific drugs–they only work in one phase of the cell’s life cycle.

Vinca Alkaloids (plant alkaloids). Naturally occurring chemicals that stop cell division in a specific phase.
Antibiotics: Also made from natural substances that interfere with cell division; they can affect cancer cells in all phases of their life cycle and interfere with DNA synthesis.
Hormones: Substances that occur naturally in the human body; they give messages that either encourage or stop growth or activities in certain cells or organs. There are two types of hormones: sex, or steroid, hormones, and gluco-corticoid hormones. The sex hormones act on a very specific group of tissues and are useful in treating cancers of the prostate, breast, uterus, and kidney. Gluco-corticoid hormones act on a wide variety of tissues and organs and have been used to treat Hodgkin’s disease; lymphocytic and histolytic lymphoma; lymphoblastic, lymphocytic, and acute myelogenous leukemia; and multiple myeloma.

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  1. Reply
    Mike May 17, 2013 at 8:12 am

    You have to read how each drug works.

    Look up the drug.

    Some drugs are pills now chemo.

    Read about the Novartis miracle drugs.

    They block kinases and growth factors.

  2. Reply
    onlymatch4u May 17, 2013 at 8:34 am

    Chemotherapy works by destroying cancer cells; unfortunately, it cannot tell the difference between a cancer cell and some healthy cells. So chemotherapy eliminates not only the fast-growing cancer cells but also other fast-growing cells in your body, including, hair and blood cells.

    Some cancer cells grow slowly while others grow rapidly. As a result, different types of chemotherapy drugs target the growth patterns of specific types of cancer cells. Each drug has a different way of working and is effective at a specific time in the life cycle of the cell it targets.

    So, the chemicals are designed to go after specific cells that have a particular metabolic rate.

    Chemotherapy has NOT been very effective and the 5 year survival rate is very poor. It is expensive; a cancer patient is worth about $ 300,000 to the medical community.

    In 1972, according to the American Cancer Societies own figures, 33% of cancers had a five year survival rate. We should also point out that at that same time 33% of cancers went away on their own. Today, according to the ACS, the five year survival rate for cancer has risen to 40%. However, what they do not tell you is that:

    1.The statistics are invalid because they combine data of both local and metastasized cancers; and that the comparisons are not randomized [Ulrich Abel, Advanced Epithelial Cancer”, 1990 (no longer in print) ]
    2.Cancers not factored into the original statistics are now factored in, such as skin cancers, many of which are not fatal and that the statistics are purposely inflated by including people with benign cancers.
    3.Technology has helped us to find cancers earlier, thus the survival time from diagnosis to eventual death has lengthened.
    4.They are now including in their stats non deadly skin cancers.

    By shrinking tumors, chemotherapy encourages stronger cancer cells to grow and multiply and become chemo resistant. Then there are the new cancers caused by chemotherapy, or secondary cancers. This quaint side effect is often overlooked in the lists of side effects in a drug’s accompanying literature, though you can find this information quite easily at the National Cancer Institute. We pride ourselves in America for being technologically advanced and that our technology is rooted in a foundation of good science.


    When it comes to medicine, little at all is based upon science. Again we shall point to the Office of Technological Assessment’s paper: Assessing the Efficacy and Safety of Medical Technologies in which we are told that fewer than 20% of all medical procedures have been tested, and that of those tested, half were tested badly.

    Medicine in America is not about healing.

    Most telling, according to Ralph Moss in his book Questioning Chemotherapy, is that in a good number of surveys, chemotherapists have responded that they would neither recommend chemotherapy for their families nor would they use it themselves. In an unpublished cohort study in which it was revealed that only 9% of oncologists took chemotherapy for their cancers.

    “Most cancer patients in this country die of chemotherapy.

    Chemotherapy does not eliminate breast, colon, or lung cancers. This fact has been documented for over a decade, yet doctors still use chemotherapy for these tumors,” Allen Levin, MD UCSF The Healing of Cancer.

    Additionally, Irwin Bross, a biostatistician for the National Cancer Institute, discovered that many cancers that are benign (though thought to be malignant) and will not metastasize until they are hit with chemotherapy. In other words, he’s found that many people who’ve been diagnosed with metastatic cancer did not have metastatic cancer until they got their chemotherapy.

    For many cancers, chemotherapy just does not improve your survival rate. Some of these are colorectal, gastric, pancreatic, bladder, breast, ovarian, cervical and corpus uteri, head and neck. Knowing this, oncologists still recommend a regimen of chemotherapy, why?

    The answer you will get from oncologists that are honest is this: “We give it to patients so they won’t give up hope and fall into the hands of quacks.” Quacks? Implicit in the definition of quackery is the sale of worthless or dangerous nostrums for profit. Who exactly are the quacks? Just because someone is wearing a white smock, has a title, and works in a nice air conditioned office, does NOT take away what he is. Con men don’t look like crooks or they would never get anyone to buy into what they are selling. Looking credible does NOT mean they are.

    Dr Ulrich Abel, who poured over thousands and thousands of cancer studies, published his shocking report in 1990 stating quite succinctly that chemotherapy has done nothing for 80% of all cancers; that 80% of chemotherapy administered was absolutely worthless.

    To give a fair and accurate assessment of chemotherapy in your report, you should also tell people how it is NOT very effective and only a smal

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