5 Brain Tumor Drugs Currently Used In Treatment
Chemotherapy is not an effective initial treatment for brain tumors, mostly because standard drugs cannot cross the natural protection filter around the brain (the blood-brain barrier). Thereby, chemotherapy for brain tumors is usually recommended following surgery or radiation therapy. Drug administration depends on the type of drug. Systemic delivery drugs, which pass to the brain from the bloodstream, can be given by mouth or injection whereas Local delivery drugs are placed within or around the brain tumor.
Many different drugs and drug combinations are used in the treatment of brain tumor. Listed below are the 5 chemotherapy drugs commonly used in the treatment of brain tumor.
Temozolomide (Temodar): Temozolomide is approved for adult patients with anaplastic astrocytoma that did not respond to other treatments. It is also approved for use during and after radiation therapy for patients newly diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme. Temozolomide is administered orally and penetrates well into the central nervous system. Temozolomide’s side effects are relatively minor, but may include constipation, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, and headache. The drug is taken by mouth as a pill.
Carmustine (BCNU, BiCNU): is used to treat many types of brain tumors, including glioblastoma, medulloblastoma, and astrocytoma. Carmustine is usually administered into the vein but can also be delivered through a wafer implant (Gliadel), which is surgically placed into the brain cavity after tumor removal.
Lomustine: Lomustine is approved to be used alone or with other drugs to treat brain tumor. It is used in patients who have already had surgery or radiation therapy. Lomustine alkylates and crosslinks DNA, thereby inhibiting DNA and RNA synthesis. The commonest side effects include low blood cell counts, reaction with alcohol or other drugs and loss of appetite.
Bevacizumab: used to treat patients with Glioblastoma. It is a recombinant humanized monoclonal antibody directed against the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a pro-angiogenic cytokine. Bevacizumab binds to VEGF and inhibits VEGF receptor binding, thereby preventing the growth and maintenance of tumor blood vessels.
PCV Drug Regimen: PCV combines procarbazine (Matulane), lomustine (CCNU), and vincristine (Oncovin). PCV is commonly used to treat oligodendrogliomas and mixed oligoastrocytomas. The drugs may also be used alone or in other combinations. Procarbazine and lomustine are taken by mouth and Vincristine is given by either injection or IV.
Researchers are investigating whether drugs used to treat other types of cancer may have effects for brain tumors. Many clinical trials are studying the benefits of targeted therapy to specifically kill or arrest the growth of only cancerous cells without affecting surrounding normal cells.