Step 1 Study Topics: Cancer Drugs Mechanisms Of Action


This page is dedicated to compiling Step 1 study notes for the topic of cancer drugs mechanisms of action. This page is likely disorganized as it was made in haste.


Purine analogs:

  • Azathioprine: decreases de novo purine synthesis 
  • 6-mercaptopurine: decreases de novo purine synthesis 
  • Cladribine: inhibits DNA polymerase, DNA strand breaks

Pyrimidine analogs:

  • Cytarabine (arabinofuranosyl cytidine): inhibition of DNA polymerase 
  • 5- fluorouracil: inhbiits thymidylate synthase which causes decreases in dTMP production and decreased DNA synthesis. 

Folic acid analog:

  • Methotrexate: folic acid analog that inhibits dihydrofolate reductase. Decreases dTMP and by proxy DNA synthesis. 

All of these medications cross link DNA in various ways:

  • Busulfan
  • Cyclophspamide
  • Ifosfamide

Bleomycin: Induces free radical formation (breaks in DNA strands). 

Dactinomycin (actinomycin D): intercalates in DNA 

Doxorubicin, daunorubicin: Generates free radicals and intercalates in DNA (breaks in DNA = decreased replication)


Cross linkers of DNA:

  • Cisplatin 
  • Carboplatin

Microtubule inhibitors:

  • Paclitaxel
  • Vinblastine
  • Vincristine




Page Updated: 04.15.2017