Cancer Home > Altretamine

How Does It Work?

It is not entirely known how altretamine works against cancer. It belongs to a class of medications called alkylating agents, and may work like other alkylating agents.
In general, alkylating agents work by causing strands of DNA to bond to each other and become linked (this is known as "cross-linking"). The linked strands cannot uncoil and separate, which is necessary for the DNA to replicate. Because DNA replication is essential for cells to grow and multiply, alkylating agents like altretamine prevent cell growth and multiplication, and may cause cell death.
Altretamine itself is not active against cancer cells. Instead, the medication must be converted into an active form once it is in the body.

When and How to Take This Medicine

Some general considerations to keep in mind during treatment with altretamine include the following:
  • This medicine comes in the form of a capsule. It is normally taken by mouth four times a day.
  • You should take your altretamine doses after meals and at bedtime.
  • Try to take your doses at the same times each day to keep an even level of the drug in your bloodstream.
  • For this drug to work properly, it must be taken as prescribed. Do not stop taking altretamine just because you feel better, unless your healthcare provider specifically tells you to do so.

Dosing Information for Altretamine

The dose of altretamine your healthcare provider recommends will vary, depending on a number of factors, including:
  • Your height and weight
  • How you respond to the medication
  • Side effects you may experience.
As is always the case, do not adjust your dosage unless your healthcare provider specifically tells you to do so.
(Click Altretamine Dosage for more information.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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