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What Are Cytotoxic Drugs?

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Updated June 04, 2014

What Are Cytotoxic Drugs?
Cytotoxic drugs are labeled "cytotoxic" because they treat malignancies by directly killing tumor cells. The ability of these drugs to treat arthritis and related conditions may, however, be due to their anti-inflammatory effects as opposed to their ability to kill cells. The three cytotoxic medications typically used to treat the signs and symptoms of arthritis and other rheumatic diseases, include:

According to UW Medicine, the University of Washington Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Orthopaedic Surgery, cytotoxic drugs are used in the treatment of several forms of arthritis and other conditions, including:

How are cytotoxic drugs used to treat arthritis and other rheumatic diseases? What side effects associated with cytotoxic drugs are common and which are serious? We asked rheumatologist Scott J. Zashin, M.D., to explain more about these medications in What Are Cytotoxic Drugs?

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