A nursing update on cytotoxic chemotherapy
Keywords: cell cycle, DNA, cytotoxic agent, immunotherapy, adverse effects, vesicant, extravasation, occupational safety precautions, cytotoxic waste, CLABSI
AbstractThe modern era of cytotoxic chemotherapy started during World War II when a cargo ship carrying mustard gas exploded. Many who survived the blast died in the following weeks because their bone marrow had been destroyed by the gas. Mustine, the first cytotoxic chemotherapy drug produced after the war, was a variant of mustard gas, and was found to be dramatically effective in the treatment of Hodgkin’s disease, which was previously untreatable.1 Cytotoxic (derived from the Greek word, kytos, meaning “cell”) agents exert their action nonselectively. In other words, they cannot discriminate between normal and malignant cells on rapidly dividing cells in the body. It is essential to have insight into the five phases of the cell cycle in order to understand the principles of cytotoxic administration, the side-effects and care of the patient undergoing chemotherapy.
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