Cancer is a set of diseases caused by the abnormal proliferation of cells, thus forming tumors. There are over one hundred types of cancer. Cancer of the skin, lung, breast, liver, stomach, kidney, ovary, brain, prostate, pancreas and bones are some examples. This name is given to all forms of malignant tumors, being its original word of the Latin “cancer”, that means crab. This is due to the similarity between the legs of the crustacean and the tentacles of the tumor, which seep into the healthy tissues of the body

 Cell division of a cancer cell

Cell division of a cancer cell

Lung cancer

Types of cancer

The different types of cancer correspond to the various types of cells of the body, for example, there are several types of skin cancer because the skin is formed of more than one type of cell. If the cancer starts in epithelial tissues such as skin or mucous membranes it is called carcinoma. If cancer starts in connective tissues such as bone, muscle or cartilage is called sarcoma, tumors in the lymphatic system lymphomas and cancer in blood tissue leukemia. Other characteristics that differentiate the different types of cancer among themselves are the speed of multiplication of the cells and the ability to invade neighboring or distant tissues and organs (metastases)

Cancer treatment

It is the oldest and most definitive, when the tumor is located, under favorable anatomical circumstances. In general it is the most important treatment, which influences more on the cure of the patient. For some types of cancer, however, only surgery is not enough due to the spread of cancerous cells locally or diffusely.

It is most commonly used for localized tumors that can not be completely resected, or for tumors that usually reappear locally after surgery.

Sexual hormones are of great importance in Oncology, being deeply involved in the development of various malignant tumors. Due to the high degree of dependence that these tumors usually maintain in relation to the hormones, the blockade to the hormonal action allows to inhibit its growth


It is the systemic treatment for cancer. It consists of the use of drugs that have cytotoxic action (causes damages to the cells). These drugs can be administered alone (mono-chemotherapy) or combined (polychemotherapy), the latter having the most effective results, as it achieves greater response to each application, decreasing the risk of drug resistance and reaching the cells at different stages of their cycle.

History of Chemotherapy in Combating Cancer

1942 – Onset of Chemotherapy in the Fight against Cancer.


1950 – National Cancer Institute (NCI) plays a key role in the development of anti-cancer drugs.

1970 – Under Nixon government this disease received special attention, being responsible for the discovery of important drugs.

 Antitumor antibiotics

The importance of taxol as a medicine

1960 – 1981: 110,000 Compounds were evaluated from 35,000 different species, with Taxol being the most promising.
PROBLEM: In order to have 1 kg of Taxol, it takes 10,000 kg of the bark of Taxus brevifolia about 3,000 trees (which take from 100 to 200 years to reach adulthood) and is able to treat only 500 patients in a year.

A solution emerges

 1 kg de 10-Desacetilbacatina-III – 3.000 Kg de folhas da Taxus baccata .

1 kg de 10-Desacetilbacatina-III – 3.000 Kg de folhas da Taxus baccata .

Taxol Hemisyhthesis

Holton and contributors


Robert A. Holton
Bristol-Mayer Squibb Company, New York N.Y.
Paclitaxel, Intaxel, Anzatax, Paxene, Taxol and Yewtaxan

Structure-activity relationship of taxol


1985: Potier and Collaborators Gif-sur-Yvette – France

1994: Rhône-Poulenc Rorer S.A. (Docetaxel)