According to the most recent statistics, one in three people will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. Increased life expectancy (cancer can be considered a disease of advanced years), environmental factors (e.g., exposure to carcinogens), and social habits (e.g., diet and/or smoking) have dramatically increased the risk of cancer in Western populations. Breast, lung, colorectal, and prostate are the four major types of cancer in adults, and they account for over half of all cases diagnosed. The treatments of these major cancers depend upon a variety of factors, but the most common ones involved surgery combined with radiation and/or chemotherapy. These treatments are briefly discussed in this section. Table 1 shows representative examples of anticancer agents and their mechanism of action.
Depending on the tumor size and the stage of the disease, treatment for breast cancer may involved surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, or a combination of two or more of the preceding methods.73 The most common chemotherapeutic agents used to treat this malignancy are cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, methotrexate, and fluorouracil. In addition to these agents, paclitaxel is often prescribed when breast cancer cells have metastasized to the lymph nodes or after breast cancer surgery. Other chemotherapy drugs for breast cancer include, among others, capecitabine and mitomycin. In addition to these agents, selective estrogen-receptor modulators (SERMs) (e.g., tamoxifen or raloxifen), aromatase inhibitors (e.g., anastozole, letrozole), and luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) analogs (e.g, goserelin) are used for the adjuvant treatment of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers. Recently, new treatment options have been available to control the progression of breast tumors. Thus, trastuzumab, a humanized monoclonal antibody that targets the extracellular domain of the p185HER2 cell-surface receptor, is an option for the treatment of erbB-2-positive metastatic breast cancer.74
Treatment options for lung cancer are determined by the type: small cell lung carcinoma (SCLC) or non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCC), and by stage of the tumor.75 Small cell lung carcinoma, which accounts for approximately 20% of all primary lung cancers and tends to be particularly aggressive, is often widespread by the time of diagnosis and treatment is often limited to chemotherapy and/or chest radiation therapy. Representative examples of combination therapies for SCLC are: etoposide and cisplatin (EC); etoposide, cisplatin, and vincristine sulfate (ECV);
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