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The Different Types of Chemotherapy Drugs

Topoisomerase Inhibitors

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© American Cancer Society 2010

These drugs interfere with enzymes called topoisomerases, which help separate the strands of DNA so they can be copied. They are used to treat certain leukemias, as well as lung, ovarian, gastrointestinal, and other cancers.

Examples of topoisomerase I inhibitors include topotecan and irinotecan (CPT-11).

Examples of topoisomerase II inhibitors include etoposide (VP-16) and teniposide. Mitoxantrone also inhibits topoisomerase II. Treatment with topoisomerase II inhibitors increases the risk of a second cancer -- acute myelogenous leukemia. Secondary leukemia can be seen as early as 2-3 years after the drug is given.

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