AC: Adriamycin and Cyclophosphamide
It is a combination of two chemotherapy medicines:
Both doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide damage the DNA inside cancer cells so they can’t divide, which causes them to die. Doxorubicin stops damaged cancer cells from continuing to grow, while cyclophosphamide stops cancer cells from reproducing.
The medicines attack the cancer cells at different stages of their growth:
- Doxorubicin works at any point in the cell cycle.
- Cyclophosphamide works when the cells are in their resting phase (not dividing).
AC is used to early-stage breast cancer. It is a very common combination when you need chemotherapy, whether or not the cancer is in the lymph nodes. It is often but not always followed by paclitaxel (Taxol) or docetaxel (Taxotere), to create a combination called ACT.
AC may also be given to people with
- a local recurrence, breast cancer that has returned at or near the place they received treatment
- a regional recurrence, breast cancer that has come back in nearby lymph nodes
- metastatic breast cancer, which has traveled from the breast or lymph nodes to distant areas of the body, such as the bones, liver, lungs or brain.
You and your doctor will discuss the best chemotherapy treatment for your situation.
The medicines are usually given by vein on the same day, followed by a rest period of 2 or 3 weeks. When given every 2 weeks, your doctor may call this schedule dose-dense AC chemotherapy. This cycle is usually repeated 4 to 6 times over 3 to 5 months.
- Low red and white blood cell counts
- Nausea and vomiting
- Hair loss
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Mouth sores
- Bladder irritation
- Skin changes
- Menopausal symptoms
Less common side effects include:
- Heart problems
- Leukemia, a blood cancer, which can occur many years after receiving AC chemotherapy
- Nail changes
Before starting AC tell your doctor about any medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbal supplements and over-the-counter medicines, to make sure they won’t interfere with your chemotherapy treatment.
You should avoid becoming pregnant while you are receiving AC. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant while undergoing treatment.