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Is Sutent considered a chemotherapy drug?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Fookes, BPharm. Last updated on Sep 21, 2021.

Official answer


Sutent is used to treat certain types of cancer, but it is considered a targeted treatment, rather than a traditional chemotherapy drug. Sutent (sunitinib) works by inhibiting receptors that exist on the surface of some cells called receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs). These receptors help cells to communicate with each other and control several different biological functions, such as cell growth, motility, differentiation, and metabolism. Research has shown that activation of some of these receptors is associated with tumor growth, angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels from existing blood vessels), and metastatic progression of cancer. Sunitinib inhibits the activity of several different kinases to inhibit tumor growth and spread.

Traditional chemotherapy drugs work by interfering with cell division (mitosis) and affect a cell's DNA or RNA.

Sutent belongs to the class of medicines known as multikinase inhibitors. It may also be called a VEGF/VEGFR inhibitor.

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