Chlorambucil sold under the brand name Leukeran among others, is a chemotherapy medication used to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), Hodgkin lymphoma, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. For CLL it is a preferred treatment. It is given by mouth. ( read more about this here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chlorambucil at Wikipedia ).
In some cases, health care professionals may use the trade name leukeran when referring to the generic drug name chlorambucil. However most consumers, don’t know this difficult chemical name and prefer to use the brand-name “Leukeran”.
How Chlorambucil Works:
Cancerous tumors are characterized by cell division, which is no longer controlled as it is in normal tissue. “Normal” cells stop dividing when they come into contact with like cells, a mechanism known as contact inhibition. Cancerous cells lose this ability. Cancer cells no longer have the normal checks and balances in place that control and limit cell division. The process of cell division, whether normal or cancerous cells, is through the cell cycle. The cell cycle goes from the resting phase, through active growing phases, and then to mitosis (division).
The ability of chemotherapy to kill cancer cells depends on its ability to halt cell division. Usually, the drugs work by damaging the RNA or DNA that tells the cell how to copy itself in division. If the cells are unable to divide, they die. The faster the cells are dividing, the more likely it is that chemotherapy will kill the cells, causing the tumor to shrink. They also induce cell suicide (self-death or apoptosis).
Chemotherapy drugs that affect cells only when they are dividing are called cell-cycle specific. Chemotherapy drugs that affect cells when they are at rest are called cell-cycle non-specific. The scheduling of chemotherapy is set based on the type of cells, rate at which they divide, and the time at which a given drug is likely to be effective. This is why chemotherapy is typically given in cycles.
Chemotherapy is most effective at killing cells that are rapidly dividing. Unfortunately, chemotherapy does not know the difference between the cancerous cells and the normal cells. The “normal” cells will grow back and be healthy but in the meantime, side effects occur. The “normal” cells most commonly affected by chemotherapy are the blood cells, the cells in the mouth, stomach and bowel, and the hair follicles; resulting in low blood counts, mouth sores, nausea, diarrhea, and/or hair loss. Different drugs may affect different parts of the body.
Chlorambucil is classified as an alkylating agent. Alkylating agents are most active in the resting phase of the cell. These drugs are cell cycle non-specific. There are several types of alkylating agents.
- Mustard gas derivatives: Mechlorethamine, Cyclophosphamide, Chlorambucil, Melphalan, and Ifosfamide.
- Ethylenimines: Thiotepa and Hexamethylmelamine.
- Alkylsulfonates: Busulfan.
- Hydrazines and Triazines: Altretamine, Procarbazine, Dacarbazine and Temozolomide.
- Nitrosureas: Carmustine, Lomustine and Streptozocin. Nitrosureas are unique because, unlike most chemotherapy, they can cross the blood-brain barrier. They can be useful in treating brain tumors.
- Metal salts: Carboplatin, Cisplatin, and Oxaliplatin.
Note: We strongly encourage you to talk with your health care professional about your specific medical condition and treatments. The information contained in this website is meant to be helpful and educational, but is not a substitute for medical advice.