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What Is Temozolomide Used For?

Using Temozolomide for Anaplastic Astrocytoma

As mentioned previously, an astrocytoma is a tumor that arises from star-shaped glial cells called astrocytes. Anaplastic astrocytoma is a grade III astrocytoma, which means it grows faster than a grade II astrocytoma but is less aggressive than glioblastoma (grade IV astrocytoma).
Treatment for anaplastic astrocytoma depends on where the tumor is located, and how far it has spread. As with other types of cancerous brain tumors, treatment usually involves surgery (if possible), radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
Temozolomide is approved for the treatment of refractory anaplastic astrocytoma, which means it is used after other treatments have failed. More specifically, temozolomide is normally used when the cancer has progressed despite treatment with a chemotherapy regimen consisting of procarbazine (Matulane®) and a "nitrosourea." Nitrosoureas are a group of chemotherapy medicines that include drugs such as carmustine (BiCNU®, Gliadel®), lomustine (CeeNU®), and streptozotocin (Zanosar®).

How Does This Medicine Work?

Temozolomide is part of a group of medications called alkylating agents. In general, alkylating agents transfer a piece of their structure, called an alkyl group, to DNA. This damages the DNA, and prevents the DNA from replicating. Because DNA replication is essential for cells to grow and multiply, alkylating medications prevent cell growth and multiplication.
Temozolomide itself is not active against cancer, but it is rapidly converted in the body into an active form. In fact, the active form of temozolomide is the same as the active form of another chemotherapy medicine known as dacarbazine.
While temozolomide can kill both healthy and cancerous cells, it has a greater effect on cells that are growing rapidly. In general, cancer cells grow more quickly than healthy cells and are, therefore, more affected by temozolomide.
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Temozolomide Drug Information

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