"Minimal change" nephrotic syndrome and various types of cancer are among the conditions that can be treated with Cytoxan. Uses of the drug specifically include the treatment of lymphomas, breast cancer, leukemia, and ovarian cancer. The medication is also used for the treatment of leukemia and nephrotic syndrome in children. "Off-label" Cytoxan uses can include the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and aplastic anemia.
Cytoxan® (cyclophosphamide) is a prescription medication used for the treatment of various types of cancer. It is also approved to treat certain kidney problems in children. Specifically, Cytoxan is approved to treat the following cancers:
- Lymphomas, including Hodgkin's lymphoma, lymphocytic lymphoma, mixed-cell lymphoma, histiocytic lymphoma, and Burkitt's lymphoma
- Multiple myeloma
- Leukemia, including chronic lymphocytic leukemia, chronic granulocytic leukemia, acute myelogenous and monocytic leukemia, and childhood lymphoblastic leukemia
- Mycosis fungoides
- Ovarian cancer
- Breast cancer.
Cytoxan is approved to treat "minimal change" nephrotic syndrome in children (a kidney disorder) when other treatments have failed. Nephrotic syndrome is a group of kidney damage symptoms (such as protein in the urine); and "minimal change" means that little kidney damage is seen when a kidney biopsy is performed.
Cytoxan is part of a group of medications called alkylating agents. Cytoxan itself is not active against cancer, but it is metabolized by the liver into its active form. The active form causes "cross-linking" of DNA cells. When DNA is cross-linked, it can no longer function properly. Since DNA is essential for cells to grow and multiply, alkylating medications prevent cell growth and multiplication and may cause cell death.
While Cytoxan can kill both healthy and cancerous cells, it has a greater effect on cells that are multiplying rapidly. Generally, cancer cells multiply more rapidly than healthy cells and are, therefore, more affected by Cytoxan.
Cytoxan also suppresses the immune system, which is probably how it works to treat nephrotic syndrome.