Anticancer Drugs from Plants

  • Denise Fernandes Coutinho MoraesEmail author
  • Ludmilla Santos Silva de Mesquita
  • Flavia Maria Mendonça do Amaral
  • Maria Nilce de Sousa Ribeiro
  • Sonia MalikEmail author


Cancer is a major problem of public health and one of the main causes of death around the globe. According to World Health Organization, the prevalence of this disease is rising, however, more rapidly in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America that account for about 70% of cancer deaths in the world. The chemotherapy is one of the ways to treat this disease and the advances in anticancer drugs have improved patient care. Plants have been used to treat different diseases since ancient times. Among the anticancer drugs, about 50% come from natural products as isolated or semisynthetic or related synthetic compounds and plants represent important source of these substances. Taxol, vinca alkaloids, camptothecin, and podophyllotoxins, as well as their semisynthetic or synthetic derivatives, are the most important anticancer drugs obtained from plants. In this chapter, we review the importance of plants as source of drugs and describe these anticancer compounds. The continuing search for antitumor agents from plants is extremely necessary to find the possible ways to have safe and more effective treatment for this health problem.


Antitumoral compounds Medicinal plants Neoplasm Taxol Vinca alkaloids 



Authors would like to acknowledge the Foundation for the Support of Research, Scientific, and Technological Development of the state of Maranhão—FAPEMA for financial support.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Denise Fernandes Coutinho Moraes
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ludmilla Santos Silva de Mesquita
    • 1
  • Flavia Maria Mendonça do Amaral
    • 1
  • Maria Nilce de Sousa Ribeiro
    • 1
  • Sonia Malik
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of PharmacyBiological and Health Sciences Center, Federal University of MaranhãoSão LuísBrazil
  2. 2.Graduate Program in Health SciencesBiological and Health Sciences Center, Federal University of MaranhãoSão LuísBrazil

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