NK-Cell Lymphomas of the Head and Neck Medication

Updated: Jun 22, 2021
  • Author: Benjamin Daniel Liess, MD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Medication Summary

Cancer chemotherapy is based on an understanding of tumor cell growth and on how drugs affect this growth. After cells divide, they enter a period of growth (phase G1), followed by DNA synthesis (phase S), the premitotic phase (phase G2), and, finally, mitotic cell division (phase M).

Cell division rates vary for different tumors. Most common cancers grow slowly in comparison with normal tissues, and the growth rate may decrease further in large tumors. This difference allows normal cells to recover from chemotherapy more quickly than malignant cells, and it is the rationale for current cyclic dosage schedules.

Today, most patients are treated with the chemotherapy regimen known as CHOP (cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, prednisone) in conjunction with radiotherapy.


Antineoplastic Agents

Class Summary

Antineoplastic agents interfere with cell reproduction. Some agents are cell cycle–specific, whereas others (eg, alkylating agents, anthracyclines, and cisplatin) are not phase-specific. Cellular apoptosis (ie, programmed cell death) is another potential mechanism of many antineoplastic agents.


Cyclophosphamide alkylates and cross-links DNA.

Doxorubicin (Adriamycin)

Doxorubicin is an anthracycline. Its multiple mechanisms of action involve DNA intercalation, topoisomerase-mediated DNA strand breakage, and oxidative damage due to free radical production.

Vincristine (Vincasar PFS)

Vincristine inhibits microtubule formation in the mitotic spindle, causing metaphase arrest.


Prednisone is an immunosuppressant used for treatment of autoimmune disorders. It may decrease inflammation by reversing increased capillary permeability and suppressing polymorphonuclear leukocyte (PMN) activity.