oa SA Pharmaceutical Journal - Rational selection of cancer chemotherapy : rational drug use
Cancer is one of the major killers in both the developed and the developing world. Statistics from the National Cancer Registry Report show that women in South Africa have a lifetime risk of 1 in 8 of getting cancer as opposed to 1 in 6 in males. In females the most common cancers are reported as breast, cervical, uterus, colorectal and oesophageal cancers. In males the prostate, lung, oesophagus, colon / rectum and bladder cancers appear to predominate.
The management of cancer is complex, and often involves several different types of treatment options. The standard treatments include chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgical excision of the cancer in one or more combinations depending on the cancer and various factors. Surgery and radiation therapy are generally used to treat cancers that are locally confined, whereas chemotherapy kills the locally confined cancer cells as well as those cancer cells that have spread to distant sites. The use of chemotherapy is only part of the management of a patient with malignant disease. Treatment in totality may also include supportive care used to control symptoms such as pain, adverse effects or complications, which may arise as a result of the chemotherapy, surgery and / or radiotherapy. All of these components are of vital importance. This article will focus on the oncologicals currently in use and look at the basis for their rational selection.
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