intravenous IV drip with window and sky in backgroundOne essential goal of your cancer treatment is to prevent cancer cells from growing. Medications known as alkylating agents help prevent cancer cell growth for patients with a variety of cancers. Alkylating agents add an alkyl group to the cell’s DNA molecule. Once the alkyl group is added, the cell’s DNA strands break, and the cell can no longer multiply. Eventually, the cancer cell will die.

You should always speak with a doctor you trust about your chemotherapy options. Here, however, we will provide you with some general information about alkylating agents so that you can be aware of the drugs’ potential benefits and risks.

Six Classes of Alkylating Agents

Not all alkylating agents are the same. This group of medications consists of six classes, including:

  1. Alkyl sulfonates such as busulfan
  2. Ehtylenamine and methylenamine derivatives such as altretamine and thiotepa.
  3. Nitrogen mustards such as mechlorethamine, cyclophosphamide, ifosfamide, melphalan, bendamustine, and chlorambucil
  4. Nitrosoureas such as carmustine, streptozocin, and lomustine. Nitrosoureas alkylating agents can enter the brain, unlike other types of alkylating agents
  5. Triazenes such as dacarbazine, procarbazine, and temozolomide
  6. Platinum coordination complexes. Platinum coordination complexes do not work the same way as the five classes described above, but they are often included as a class of alkylating agents. Some of the drugs include cisplatin, carboplatin, and oxaliplatin.

Some of these drugs are given orally or injected through an IV. Your doctor should determine the right medication, dosage, and method of administration for you.

Alkylating Agents Treat a Variety of Cancers

Alkylating agents may fight many different types of cancers, including but not limited to:

  • Brain tumors
  • Breast cancer
  • Hodgkin disease
  • Leukemia
  • Lung cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Sarcoma

Your doctor should prescribe the right alkylating agent for your specific type of cancer.

Risks of Too Much Alkylating Agent Medication

Chemotherapy drugs have side effects, and alkylating agents are no exception. Some common side effects include anemia, decreased red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets, absence of menstruation in females, impaired sperm production in males, intestinal mucosal damage, and hair loss.

According to the American Cancer Society, developing a new cancer, specifically leukemia, is a rare risk of alkylating agents. Alkylating agents work by damaging a cell’s DNA. This includes new blood cells. The risk of developing leukemia from alkylating agents increases as the dose of alkylating agents increases. The more alkylating agents you receive, the higher your risk of developing leukemia. The risk is highest about five to ten years after cancer treatment.

Additionally, information from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases indicates that some alkylating agents may also have significant impacts on the liver when given in high doses.

If you received more alkylating agents than were necessary to treat your cancer and you developed leukemia, you need to know more about what happened to you and your legal rights. If your overdose was due to medical negligence, you could have a chemotherapy overdose case, and you may recover damages for your injuries. Your potential damages could include compensation for your past and future medical costs, lost income, out-of-pocket expenses, physical pain, emotional suffering, and other damages.

Contact an experienced Kentucky chemotherapy overdose lawyer today to learn more about your rights and your possible compensation. Our firm will work hard to find out whether you were the victim of medical malpractice and, if you were, we will do everything possible to protect your recovery in a chemotherapy overdose lawsuit.

You have a limited amount of time to take legal action. Accordingly, we encourage you to download your complimentary copy of our book, Cancer Treatment and Malpractice: When Chemotherapy and Radiation Mistakes Cause Serious Injuries, and to contact our chemo overdose law firm by phone or through this website today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation. Let’s meet to talk about your potential case, your possible recovery, and our No Fee Policy.

Mark K. Gray
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Louisville attorney serving the seriously injured in Kentucky

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