The primary use of Hexalen is to treat ovarian cancer that has not responded to other treatment or that has returned after previous treatment. It not exactly clear how this chemotherapy drug works, but it is thought to work by disrupting how the cancer cells grow and divide. Although Hexalen can help relieve cancer symptoms, it does not cure the disease.
Hexalen® (altretamine) is a prescription medication approved to treat ovarian cancer (cancer of the ovaries). It is usually not the first medication a person will receive after they have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Instead, Hexalen is approved to treat cancer that has not responded to previous treatment (persistent cancer) or cancer that has returned after responding to previous treatment (recurrent cancer).
Ovarian cancer is a disease in which cancerous cells form in the tissues of the ovaries. The ovaries are part of the female reproductive system. They are located in the pelvis, one on each side of the uterus (the hollow, pear-shaped organ where a baby grows). The ovaries produce eggs (ova) and female hormones.
Ovarian cancer primarily occurs in women over the age of 50. However, it can also affect younger women.
There are several treatment options available for women with ovarian cancer, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatment. A healthcare provider will generally consider several different factors when recommending treatment, such as:
- A woman's overall health
- How far the cancer has advanced
- The specific type of ovarian cancer (see Types of Ovarian Cancer)
- Whether the cancer is newly diagnosed or is recurrent.
(Click on any of the following eMedTV articles for more information about treatment options:
- Ovarian Cancer Treatment
- Ovarian Cancer Chemotherapy
- Ovarian Cancer Radiation
- Ovarian Cancer Surgery
- Ovarian Cancer Treatment by Stage.)
Hexalen is a type of chemotherapy treatment that is approved to be used alone, not with other chemotherapy medicines.
Hexalen is specifically approved for the palliative treatment of ovarian cancer. The goal of palliative treatment is to relieve and prevent symptoms of a disease, not to cure it. Palliative treatment helps a person to be more comfortable.
Hexalen may slow down the progression of ovarian cancer, or reduce tumor size. By slowing down the growth and spread of cancer, and shrinking tumors, Hexalen may reduce symptoms and improve a person's ability to perform ordinary, daily activities while living with their cancer.