antibiotics for cancer

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Hundreds of antibiotics are prescribed today. Several are used to fight cancer in conjunction with other forms of treatment. These include radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and chemotherapy.

Anti-cancer antibiotics have been found in studies to promote cancer cell death and prevent cancer cells from spreading throughout the body (metastasize). Certain antibiotics have also been shown to strengthen the immune system, making treatments such as radiation more effective.

These conclusions are very positive. However, antibiotics have also been find have a negative effect on the growth and treatment of cancer. In fact, broad spectrum antibiotics have been show reduce overall survival rates in some cancer patients receiving immunotherapy treatments. A to study who analyzed the use of antibiotics prescribed during platinum chemotherapy showed similar results.

Antibiotics alter the gut microbiota by killing both good and bad bacteria. This disruption of the gut microbiome can reduce the body’s ability to fight cancer and increase inflammation. Inflammation is often associated to development and progression of cancer.

Treating cancer, with or without antibiotics, can be complicated. The type and stage of cancer being treated are important variables. Patient responses to treatment are also not uniform or consistent.

If you are considering antibiotic therapy for cancer, talk to your oncologist. Questions to ask include:

  • What antibiotics are currently used to treat my specific type and stage of cancer?
  • How strong is the evidence that this treatment is viable?
  • Are there any studies that confirm the results in humans or animals?
  • What side effects can I expect from this treatment?
  • How will adding antibiotics to my treatment impact my prognosis?
  • Are there any drug interactions associated with this antibiotic?

Here are some antibiotics that you and your doctor might consider adding to your treatment:

Doxorubicin is also called Adriamycin. It is a type of anthracycline anti-cancer antibiotic. Anthracyclines are a class of chemotherapy drugs that are also antibiotics.

Doxorubicin comes from the bacteria Streptomyces peucetius. It works by damaging cellular DNA and killing cancer cells. It also blocks an enzyme necessary for cell repair and division.

Doxorubicin has several brand names, including Lipodox and Doxil.

This medicine is used to treat several types of cancer, including:

Bleomycin is an antineoplastic antibiotic used in chemotherapy. It was approved by the FDA to treat certain types of cancers in 1975. This drug has been show to be very effective in treating head and neck cancer without melanoma.

It comes from the bacteria Whorl streptomyces. Bleomycin blocks the growth of cancer cells by binding to DNA and breaking its strands.

The brand name of Bleomycin is Blenoxane.

Bleomycin is used to treat:

Daunorubicin is an anthracycline antibiotic. It is used in conjunction with other medicines as a first-line anticancer medicine during treatment for induction of remission.

Daunorubicin comes from the bacteria Streptomyces coeruleorubidus. It kills cancer cells by blocking an enzyme necessary for cell division and DNA repair.

The brand name of Daunorubicin is Cerubidine.

This medicine is used to treat:

Mitomycin is an antineoplastic antibiotic. This type of anti-cancer antibiotic works by interfering with cellular DNA and blocking cell growth. Mitomycin is also an alkylating agent. Alkylating agents prevent DNA strands from binding. This breaks the strands of DNA and prevents cancer cells from multiplying.

Mitomycin comes from the bacteria Streptomyces.

The brand name for mitomycin is Jelmyto.

He is used to treat:

Plicamycin is an antineoplastic antibiotic. It is used in hospitalized cancer patients who are not viable candidates for surgery or radiation therapy.

Plicamycin comes from the bacteria Streptomyces plicatus. It works by binding to cellular DNA, preventing them from making proteins and RNA.

This medicine can cause serious side effects and is not intended for the general treatment of cancer.

The brand name for plicamycin is Mithracin.

He is used to treat:

There are many drugs that can be used during cancer treatment. Your healthcare professional can help you find the best medicine for your particular situation.

Antibiotics used in cancer treatment are often combined with other treatments such as:

  • radiation
  • immunotherapy
  • chemotherapy

Resources

Adriamycin. (nd). https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/adriamycin

Brandt, JP et al. Bleomycin. (2021). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK555895/

Chambers, LM et al. Impact of antibiotic treatment during platinum-based chemotherapy on survival and recurrence in women with advanced epithelial ovarian cancer. (2020). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ygyno.2020.09.010

Daunorubicin hydrochloride. (nd). https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/search/daunorubicin%20hydrochloride/?searchMode=Begins

Doxorubicin hydrochloride. (nd). https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/doxorubicin-hydrochloride

Gao, Y., et al. Antibiotics for cancer treatment: a double-edged sword. (2020). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32742461/

Groselj, A., et al. Efficacy of reduced-dose bleomycin electrochemotherapy in the treatment of non-melanoma skin cancer of the head and neck: preliminary results. (2017). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29130624/

Khosravi, A., et al. Disruption of the gut microbiome as a risk factor for microbial infections. (2013). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5695238/

Martins Lopes, MS, et al. Antibiotics, cancer risk and efficacy of oncological treatment: a practical review of the literature. (2020). https://ecancer.org/en/journal/article/1106-antibiotics-cancer-risk-and-oncologic-treatment-efficacy-a-practical-review-of-the-literature

Mitomycin. (nd). https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/mitomycin

Overview of antibiotics. (2019). https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/antibiotiques/

Petrelli, F., et al. Survival of patients treated with antibiotics and immunotherapy for cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis. (2020). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32414103/

Plycamycin. (2020). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31644044/

Plycamycin. (nd). https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/plicamycin

Singh, N., et al. Inflammation and cancer. (2019). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6704802/

Thorne, CF, et al. Doxorubicin routes: pharmacodynamics and adverse effects. (2011). Overview of antibiotics. (2019). https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/antibiotiques/

Uribe-Herranz, M., et al. The gut microbiota modulates antigen presentation of dendritic cells and the antitumor immune response induced by radiotherapy. (2019). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28286267/

Xia, D. et al. Overexpression of CHAF1A in epithelial ovarian cancer may promote cell proliferation and prohibit cell apoptosis. (2017). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28286267/


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