It is not entirely known how altretamine works against cancer. It belongs to a group 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 in the body.
Can Children Use It?
Altretamine has not been adequately studied in children, and is not approved for use in this age group (usually defined as individuals younger than 18 years old). Because ovarian cancer rarely occurs in children, altretamine is unlikely to be used in children unless it is being used off-label. Talk with your child's healthcare provider about the particular benefits and risks of using altretamine in children.
Is It Safe for Older Adults to Use Altretamine?
Older adults can use this medication. In general, older adults may be more sensitive to certain altretamine side effects and, therefore, may need special monitoring during treatment.
What About Off-Label Uses?
On occasion, your healthcare provider may recommend this medication for something other than the uses discussed in this article. This is called an "off-label" use. Altretamine may be used off-label to treat other types of cancer, including:
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