Breast cancer is a malignant disease that affects both genders. It is the second most common type of cancer in women, with invasive and non-invasive breast cancer diagnosed in about 291,000 women and 2,350 men in 2015 in the U.S., according to the American Breast Cancer Foundation. Depending on the form of the disease and on a patient’s health characteristics, treatment options can include surgery and radiation, which are considered local treatments since they aim to treat the cancer without harming other parts of the body, or chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy, and bone-directed therapy, which are systemic treatments that reach cancer cells elsewhere in the body.
The most common form of breast cancer is ductal carcinoma (DC), which starts in the lining of the ducts — the tubes that carry milk to the nipple. The breast also has glands that produce milk called lobules, and fatty and connective tissue called the stroma that surround the lymph nodes and blood vessels. Other parts of the breast may also develop the disease. Symptoms include a new breast lump or mass, swelling of all or part of a breast, skin irritation or dimpling, breast or nipple pain, nipple retraction, redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin, or a nipple discharge other than breast milk.
How Cyclophosphamide (Clafen, Cytoxan and Neosar) Works
Cyclophosphamide is a chemotherapy included in a group of drugs called alkylating agents, which work by attaching to the DNA strand of one cancer cell. Since DNA is the genetic code that controls every function of cancer cells, when cyclophosphamide sticks to it, the compound makes the cell unable to divide into two new cells.
Cyclophosphamide is used alone or in combination with other drugs for the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children, acute myeloid leukemia, breast cancer, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, chronic myelogenous leukemia, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma, mycosis fungoides, neuroblastoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, ovarian cancer, and retinoblastoma.
The compound is also being studied for the treatment of other types of cancer. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) Drug Dictionary defines cyclophosphamide as a “synthetic alkylating agent chemically related to the nitrogen mustards with antineoplastic and immunosuppressive activities. In the liver, cyclophosphamide is converted to the active metabolites aldophosphamide and phosphoramide mustard, which bind to DNA, thereby inhibiting DNA replication and initiating cell death.”
Cyclophosphamide (Clafen, Cytoxan and Neosar) for Breast Cancer
In the U.S., cyclophosphamide for breast cancer is commercialized under the brand names Clafen, Cytoxan, and Neosar. It is most commonly used in combination with other chemotherapy drugs before and after surgery and other treatments to decrease the risk of early-stage breast cancer recurrence; before surgery to shrink large advanced-stage breast cancer tumors; or after surgery and other treatments to treat advanced-stage breast cancer.
Cyclophosphamide can be taken orally or intravenously. When taken orally, patients swallow cyclophosphamide in the form of tablets on an empty stomach and according to the treatment plan defined by the oncology healthcare team.
In the case of intravenous treatment, cyclophosphamide is introduced into the bloodstream through a thin, short tube called a cannula placed in the patient’s arm, or through a central line called a portacath (port) placed into a large vein in the chest. The dosage is recommended according to the patient’s needs. About 10 percent of patients experience side effects such as low white blood cell counts that increase the risk of infections, low red blood cells that cause anemia and tiredness, low platelets and consequent bruising, weakness and fatigue, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, hair loss, temporarily stopping to menstruate (amenorrhoea), and loss of fertility.
In addition, occasional side effects include diarrhea, alteration in the color of nails and skin, mouth ulcers, and inflammation of the bladder (cystitis), while rare side effects include increased risk of a second cancer, damage to heart muscle, changes in lung tissue, and fluid build up that causes swollen hands or ankles.
Note: Breast Cancer News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.