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What Is Altretamine Used For?

If you have ovarian cancer, you may be able to help lessen cancer symptoms by using a chemotherapy drug called altretamine. This medicine is used for palliative treatment, which means it can help reduce symptoms but will not cure the cancer. There are also some unapproved reasons a healthcare provider may prescribe altretamine, such as treating breast cancer, cervical cancer, and pancreatic cancer.

An Overview of Uses for Altretamine

Altretamine (Hexalen®) is a prescription medication approved to treat ovarian cancer (cancer of the ovaries). It is usually not the first medication a person will receive after they have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Instead, altretamine is approved to treat cancer that has not responded to previous treatment (persistent cancer) or cancer that has returned after responding to previous treatment (recurrent cancer).

Altretamine Use for Ovarian Cancer Treatment

Ovarian cancer is a disease in which cancerous cells form in the tissues of the ovaries. The ovaries are part of the female reproductive system. They are located in the pelvis, one on each side of the uterus (the hollow, pear-shaped organ where a baby grows). The ovaries produce eggs (ova) and female hormones.
Ovarian cancer primarily occurs in women over the age of 50. However, it can also affect younger women.
There are several treatment options available for women with ovarian cancer, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatment. A healthcare provider will generally consider several different factors when recommending treatment, such as:
  • A woman's overall health
  • How far the cancer has advanced
  • The specific type of ovarian cancer (see Types of Ovarian Cancer)
  • Whether the cancer is newly diagnosed or is recurrent.
(Click on any of the following eMedTV articles for more information about treatment options:
Altretamine is a type of chemotherapy treatment. It is approved to be used alone, not with other chemotherapy medicines.
Altretamine is specifically approved for the palliative treatment of ovarian cancer. The goal of palliative treatment is to relieve and prevent symptoms of a disease, not to cure it. Palliative treatment helps a person to be more comfortable.
Altretamine may slow down the progression of ovarian cancer, or reduce tumor size. By slowing down the growth and spread of cancer, and shrinking tumors, altretamine may reduce symptoms and improve a person's ability to perform ordinary, daily activities while living with their cancer.
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Altretamine Drug Information

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