Principles of Chemotherapy

Grace K. Dy and Alex A. Adjei

During World War II, sailors who were accidentally exposed to nitrogen mustard following the explosion of a ship developed marrow and lymphoid hypoplasia.1 This serendipitous discovery led to the first clinical trial conducted in 1942 using nitrogen mustard in patients with malignant lymphomas at Yale University.2 This marked the beginning of a new era of research in the quest for effective and safe drugs used in cancer chemotherapy.

The term chemotherapy has been loosely applied to the myriad systemic therapeutic options in cancer treatment exclusive of irradiation and surgical approaches. In this chapter, we confine our discussion of chemotherapy to refer to the use of conventional cytotoxic agents. Use of targeted and biologic agents such as hormone or signal transduction manipulation and gene therapy is explored in other chapters.

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