Progress in the treatment of cancer with drugs has radically altered the clinical approach to patients with malignancy. Not only have new drugs produced promising results in hitherto untreatable tumors, but they have extended and enhanced the effectiveness of other modalities, including surgery and radiotherapy. In this article, the authors consider avenues of research that likely to aid in the discovery of new anticancer drugs and improve the effectiveness of established agents. Promising new efforts in drug development include the use of new screening systems, particularly those employing human tumor material; the development of improved analogs of existing active agents particularly those of the anthracycline and platinum complex types; and the search for agents that which promote differentiation or prevent metastasis. In an effort to improve the effectiveness of established agents, the authors consider the application of pharmacokinetic principles in developing regional perfusion routes, intraperitoneal chemotherapy, and central nervous system penetration. Finally, the contribution of biochemical pharmacology to the current understanding of drug action, mechanisms of resistance, and drug interactions are considered, and the impact of this knowledge on clinical protocol design is assessed.
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