Mechanism of Action of Anti-Cancer Drugs

  • Kenneth C. Calman
  • John F. Smyth
  • Martin H. N. Tattersall


Anti-cancer drugs are not easily classified into different groups. Our understanding of the precise mechanism of action of many anti-cancer drugs is incomplete, and the basis of their marginal anti-tumour selectivity is, in most cases, unknown. Several different classifications of anti-cancer drugs have been proposed and none is totally satisfactory. Thus, drugs have been grouped according to their chemical structure, presumed mechanism of action and cytotoxic activity in relationship to the cell cycle. Each classification has some merits, but the fact that there are so many different ways of grouping these compounds reflects the disparate origin of anti-cancer drugs and limited knowledge of their mechanisms of action and bases of tumour selectivity.


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Copyright information

© Kenneth C. Calman, John F. Smyth and Martin H.N. Tattersall 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth C. Calman
    • 1
  • John F. Smyth
    • 2
  • Martin H. N. Tattersall
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Cancer Research CampaignThe University of GlasgowUK
  2. 2.Imperial Cancer Research FundThe University of EdinburghUK
  3. 3.Sydney BranchLudwig Institute for Cancer ResearchAustralia
  4. 4.The University of SydneyAustralia

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