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Care During Chemotherapy and Beyond

Chemoprotective Agents: Amifostine, Mesna, Dexrazoxane

Chemoprotective agents are drugs that are used with certain types of chemotherapy to protect the body from or minimize the side effects of the chemotherapy.  Common chemoprotective agents include amifostine, dexrazoxane, and mesna.

Amifostine - Approved by the FDA in 1995, amifostine helps reduce the level of renal injury in some cancer patients treated with chemotherapy.  It was studied in WWII to protect soldiers against chemical warfare. Dexrazoxane - Approved by the FDA in 1995, dexrazoxane use has resulted in a significant decrease in cardiac events in cancer patients undergoing certain chemotherapy treatments.  Mesna - Approved by the FDA in 1988, mesna is used to decrease bladder irritation (hemorrhagic cystitis) caused by certain high-dose chemotherapy protocols.

These medications do not eliminate side effects in general.  Rather, they protect the body from some of the potentially serious side effects.  These drugs also have side effects of their own so they are used only with specific types of chemotherapy or when the benefit clearly is greater than the risk. Common chemoprotective agents include:  amifostine, dexrazoxane, and mesna.

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