Cyclophosphamide is a widely used anti-cancer drug, most commonly used as a treatment for the following medical conditions: lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma, mycosis fungoides, neuroblastoma, retinoblastoma, and breast and ovary cancer. Although slightly less common, it may also be used to treat some types of non-cancerous medical conditions.
Belonging to a specific group of chemotherapy medications known as alkylating agents, Cyclophosphamide is converted to active metabolites in the liver upon ingestion. These metabolites form DNA crosslinks between, as well as within, DNA strands, beginning an irreversible chain reaction. As the cell DNA slowly becomes disconnected, they become deprived of iron (a crucial nutrient for cancerous cells), leading to cell death.
Administering the Drug
Cyclophosphamide is normally ingested either orally in pill form or administered intravenously out of a syringe. The size of the dose that is given is directly correlated with the weight of the patient, as well as the type of cancer the patient has been diagnosed. With most cancer patients, other anti-cancer medications are given along with Cyclophosphamide, and in addition, anti-nausea medicines should be taken as well to combat the general sickness that comes along with most anti-cancer drugs. It is widely recognized that anti-nausea medication works best when taken approximately one hour before Cyclophosphamide, along with plenty of water.
To help prevent bladder problems, Cyclophosphamide should be taken first thing in the morning with a full glass of water, and at least one full glass of water every following hour. For those with stomach problems, smaller doses broken up by meals are recommended, to minimize discomfort. In some cases, the prescribed anti-nausea medication may not be completely effective at controlling vomiting; in this case, a doctor will most likely prescribe a different or additional medication.
Due to the fact that Cyclophosphamide may decrease the number of white blood cells, there are chances of succumbing to an infection while taking the medication. In addition, it can cause temporary or (rarely) permanent sterility. Cyclophosphamide itself is a carcinogen, meaning it has the potential to cause cancer. A serious potential side-effect is acute myeloid leukemia which typically presents itself years after treatment, with incidence peaking around three to nine years. After nine years, the risk a patient has of getting acute myeloid leukemia falls to that of the regular population.