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Medications Used for Cancer

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Abstract

Systemic anti-cancer therapy (SACT) is an umbrella term that refers to all drugs that directly halts or stabilises tumour activity. These include traditional cytotoxic chemotherapy and targeted cancer therapies (United Kingdom Oncology Nursing Society (UKONS), Systemic anti-cancer therapy passport, UKONS, London, 2018). SACTs are delivered in hospital chemotherapy outpatient units and cancer wards, but some drugs may also be delivered by specialist nurses in patients’ homes and mobile chemotherapy units in the community. Patients who are treated with chemotherapy may experience various adverse events which affect their quality of life and have psychosocial implications. The nurse plays an important role in the assessment, prevention and management of the adverse events of chemotherapy treatment. This chapter discusses systemic anti-cancer therapies and their use in the treatment of cancer with a particular focus on traditional cytotoxic chemotherapy.

Keywords

  • Cytotoxic
  • Chemotherapy
  • Systemic anti-cancer treatment
  • SACT

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Correspondence to Mary Anne Lagmay Tanay .

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Appendices

Multiple Choice Questions

  1. 1.

    Cell cycle phase-specific chemotherapy are drugs that:

    1. (a)

      Exert an effect on cells when they are resting only

    2. (b)

      Exert an effect on cells when they are actively in the cell cycle and affect specific phase of the cell cycle

    3. (c)

      Exert an effect on cells whether they are cycling or in G0 phase

    4. (d)

      Exert an effect on cells during mitosis only

  2. 2.

    Normal cell proliferation is balanced by apoptosis. What is apoptosis?

    1. (a)

      Obsolete or damaged cells undergo programmed cell death

    2. (b)

      Ability of cancer cells to form new blood vessels

    3. (c)

      Ability of malignant cells to evade growth suppressors

    4. (d)

      The migration of cells to a different organ

  3. 3.

    The following are examples of chemotherapies except:

    1. (a)

      Alkylating agents

    2. (b)

      Antitumour antibiotics

    3. (c)

      Anti-emetics

    4. (d)

      Antimetabolites

  4. 4.

    Chemotherapy is given repeatedly over a period of time with intervals called cycles. What is the rationale for this?

    1. (a)

      To facilitate the normal cells to recover

    2. (b)

      To stop cancer cells from dividing

    3. (c)

      To allow cancer cells to rest

    4. (d)

      To allow normal cells to self-destruct

  5. 5.

    Chemotherapeutic drugs may be combined. Which of these principles is false?

    1. (a)

      Each chemotherapy agent in the combination should be active against the specific type of cancer when used on its own

    2. (b)

      Chemotherapy agents that produce adverse reactions in different organ systems may be combined

    3. (c)

      The mechanisms of action of the different agents should complement each other

    4. (d)

      Chemotherapy drugs can only be combined when it is the last option for patients

  6. 6.

    Why do adverse reactions happen when receiving chemotherapy?

    1. (a)

      Adverse reactions are caused by cancer cells and not due to anything else

    2. (b)

      The body got used to the cancer cells and protects the cancer cells from the chemotherapy

    3. (c)

      Chemotherapy cannot distinguish between cancer cells and normal cells, and affects both

    4. (d)

      Adverse reactions are basically caused by the interaction of the patient’s routine drugs and chemotherapy

  7. 7.

    Several factors which may contribute to the severity and nature of adverse reactions following chemotherapy include all except one:

    1. (a)

      Dose

    2. (b)

      Route of administration

    3. (c)

      Environmental temperature

    4. (d)

      Type of drug

  8. 8.

    The emetogenic potential of chemotherapy refers to what?

    1. (a)

      Potential of drug to cause vomiting

    2. (b)

      Potential of drug to cause constipation

    3. (c)

      Potential of drug to cause peripheral neuropathy

    4. (d)

      Potential of drug to cause neutropaenic sepsis

  9. 9.

    To ensure safety in the administration of chemotherapy what must the nurse do?

    1. (a)

      Discard all chemotherapy waste in a hospital plastic bag

    2. (b)

      Wear appropriate personal protective equipment

    3. (c)

      When chemotherapy is spilled, wait until the hospital cleaner arrives to clean the spill

    4. (d)

      Dispose of chemotherapy waste like any other clinical waste

  10. 10.

    What other cancer treatment modalities may be used alongside chemotherapy?

    1. (a)

      Surgery

    2. (b)

      Radiotherapy

    3. (c)

      Hormonal therapy

    4. (d)

      All of the above

Answers

  1. 1.

    b

  2. 2.

    a

  3. 3.

    c

  4. 4.

    a

  5. 5.

    d

  6. 6.

    c

  7. 7.

    c

  8. 8.

    a

  9. 9.

    b

  10. 10.

    d

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Tanay, M.A.L. (2020). Medications Used for Cancer. In: Hood, P., Khan, E. (eds) Understanding Pharmacology in Nursing Practice . Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-32004-1_14

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-32004-1_14

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