Chemotherapy drugs are natural, semisynthetic, or synthetic substances with selective inhibitory effects against biological pathogenic agents (microorganisms) of humans and animals and against atypical (cancerous) cells. The majority of chemotherapeutic drugs can be divided into antifungal agents, antiprotozoal, antimicrobial, antitubercular, antileprotic, antihelmintic, antiviral, cytostatic, and other agents.

A fundamental philosophy of oncological combination chemotherapy is that different chemotherapy drugs work through different cytotoxic mechanisms, and that the results of using multiple drugs will be synergistic to some extent. Because they have different dose-limiting adverse effects, they can be given together at full doses in chemotherapy regimens.[1]

The first successful combination chemotherapy was MOPP introduced in 1963 for lymphomas.

The term "induction regimen" refers to a chemotherapy regimen used for the initial treatment of a disease. A "maintenance regimen" refers to the ongoing use of chemotherapy to reduce the chances of a cancer recurring or to prevent an existing cancer from continuing to grow.[2]

Chemotherapy regimens are often identified by acronyms, identifying the agents used in the drug combination. However, the letters used are not consistent across regimens, and in some cases - for example, "BEACOPP" - the same letter combination is used to represent two different treatments.[3]

There is no widely accepted naming convention or standard for the nomenclature of chemotherapy regimens. For example, either generic or brand names may be used for acronyms. This page merely lists commonly used conventions.

Common chemotherapy acronyms

Name Components Example of uses, and other notes
ABVD Adriamycin (doxorubicin), bleomycin, vinblastine, dacarbazine Hodgkin's lymphoma
AC Adriamycin (doxorubicin), cyclophosphamide Breast cancer
BEACOPP Bleomycin, etoposide, Adriamycin (doxorubicin), cyclophosphamide, Oncovin (vincristine), procarbazine, prednisone Hodgkin's lymphoma
BEP Bleomycin, etoposide, platinum agent (cisplatin (Platinol)) Testicular cancer, germ cell tumors
CA Cyclophosphamide, Adriamycin (doxorubicin) (same as AC) Breast cancer
CAF Cyclophosphamide, Adriamycin (doxorubicin), fluorouracil (5-FU) Breast cancer
CAPOX or XELOX capecitabine and oxaliplatin Colorectal cancer
CAV Cyclophosphamide, Adriamycin (doxorubicin), vincristine Lung cancer
CBV Cyclophosphamide, BCNU (carmustine), VP-16 (etoposide) Lymphoma
ChlVPP/EVA Chlorambucil, vincristine (Oncovin), procarbazine, prednisone, etoposide, vinblastine, Adriamycin (doxorubicin) Hodgkin's lymphoma
CHOP Cyclophosphamide, hydroxydaunorubicin (doxorubicin), vincristine (Oncovin), prednisone Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
CHOP-R or R-CHOP CHOP + rituximab B cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma
COP or CVP Cyclophosphamide, Oncovin (vincristine), prednisone Non-Hodgkin lymphoma in patients with history of cardiovascular disease
CMF Cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, fluorouracil (5-FU) Breast cancer
COPP Cyclophosphamide, Oncovin (vincristine), procarbazine, prednisone Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
CTD Cyclophosphamide, thalidomide, dexamethasone AL amyloidosis
CVAD / HyperCVAD Cyclophosphamide, Vincristine, Adriamycin (doxorubicin), dexamethasone Aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma, lymphoblastic lymphoma, some forms of leukemia
DICE Dexamethasone, Ifosfamide, Cisplatin, Etoposide (VP-16) Aggressive relapsed lymphomas, progressive neuroblastoma
DT-PACE Dexamethasone, Thalidomide, Cisplatin or Platinol, Adriamycin or doxorubicin, Cyclophosphamide, Etoposide Multiple myeloma
EC Epirubicin, cyclophosphamide Breast cancer
ECF Epirubicin, cisplatin, fluorouracil (5-FU) Gastric cancer and oesophageal cancer
EP Etoposide, platinum agent (cisplatin (Platinol)) Testicular cancer, germ cell tumors
EPOCH Etoposide, prednisone, Oncovin, cyclophosphamide, and hydroxydaunorubicin Lymphomas
FEC Fluorouracil (5-FU), epirubicin, cyclophosphamide Breast cancer
FL (Also known as Mayo) Fluorouracil (5-FU), leucovorin (folinic acid) Colorectal cancer
FOLFIRI Fluorouracil (5-FU), leucovorin (folinic acid), irinotecan Colorectal cancer
FOLFIRINOX Fluorouracil (5-FU), leucovorin (folinic acid), irinotecan, oxaliplatin Pancreatic cancer
FOLFOX Fluorouracil (5-FU), leucovorin (folinic acid), oxaliplatin Colorectal cancer
ICE Ifosfamide, carboplatin, etoposide (VP-16) Aggressive lymphomas, progressive neuroblastoma
ICE-R ICE + rituximab High-risk progressive or recurrent lymphomas
IFL Irinotecan, leucovorin (folinic acid), fluorouracil Colorectal cancer
m-BACOD Methotrexate, bleomycin, Adriamycin (doxorubicin), cyclophosphamide, Oncovin (vincristine), dexamethasone Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
MACOP-B Methotrexate, leucovorin (folinic acid), Adriamycin (doxorubicin), cyclophosphamide, Oncovin (vincristine), prednisone, bleomycin Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
MOPP Mechlorethamine, Oncovin (vincristine), procarbazine, prednisone Hodgkin's lymphoma
MVAC methotrexate, vinblastine, adriamycin, cisplatin Advanced bladder cancer[4]
PCV Procarbazine, CCNU (lomustine), vincristine Brain tumors
POMP 6-mercaptopurine (Purinethol), vincristine (Oncovin), methotrexate, and prednisone acute adult leukemia[5]
ProMACE-MOPP Methotrexate, Adriamycin (doxorubicin), cyclophosphamide, etoposide + MOPP Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
ProMACE-CytaBOM Prednisone, doxorubicin (adriamycin), cyclophosphamide, etoposide, cytarabine, bleomycin, Oncovin (vincristine), methotrexate, leucovorin Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
R-FCM Rituximab, fludarabine, cyclophosphamide, mitoxantrone B cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma
Stanford V Doxorubicin, mechlorethamine, bleomycin, vinblastine, vincristine, etoposide, prednisone Hodgkin lymphoma
TCH Paclitaxel (Taxol), carboplatin, trastuzumab (Herceptin) Breast cancer
Thal/Dex Thalidomide, dexamethasone Multiple myeloma
TIP Paclitaxel, ifosfamide, platinum agent cisplatin (Platinol) Testicular cancer, germ cell tumors in salvage therapy
EE-4A Vincristine, Actinomycin[6] Wilms' tumor[6]
DD-4A Vincristine, Actinomycin, Doxorubicin[6] Wilms' tumor[6]
VAC Vincristine, Actinomycin, Cyclophosphamide Rhabdomyosarcoma
VAD Vincristine, Adriamycin (doxorubicin), dexamethasone Multiple myeloma
VAMP One of 3 combinations of Vincristine and others Hodgkin's lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma
Regimen I Vincristine, Adriamycin (doxorubicin), etoposide, cyclophosphamide Wilms' tumor[6]
VAPEC-B Vincristine, Adriamycin (doxorubicin), prednisone, etoposide, cyclophosphamide, bleomycin Hodgkin's lymphoma
VIP Vinblastin, ifosfamide, platinum agent cisplatin (Platinol) Testicular cancer, germ cell tumors


  1. ^ Mayer, RJ, Targeted therapy for advanced colorectal cancer -- more is not always better, N Engl J Med. 2009;360:623 which is a [possibly critical and not peer reviewed] comment to Chemotherapy, bevacizumab, and cetuximab in metastatic colorectal cancer.
  2. ^ - Explaining Maintenance Therapy
  3. ^ BEACOPP chemotherapy regimen
  4. ^ MVAC Still the ‘Best Treatment’ for Advanced Bladder Cancer Patients. 1999
  5. ^ POMP combination chemotherapy of adult acute leukemia.
  6. ^ a b c d e Treatment of Wilms Tumor at National Cancer Institute. Last Modified: 03/29/2012

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