Dacarbazine, often known by its trade name DTIC-Dome, is an alkylating agent used in the treatment of cancer. It's used most frequently either as a single agent in the treatment of malignant melanoma, or as part of the ABVD regimen (Adriamycin, bleomycin, vinblastine and dacarbazine) in the treatment of Hodgkin's disease. It is administered by IV infusion. The infusion must be carefully monitored because leakage of dacarbazine into healthy tissue can cause severe pain and burns.
As an alkylating agent, dacarbazine works by attaching alkyl groups to the DNA strands of a cell, interfering with cell division and causing the affected cell to die. Because alkylating drugs are cell-cycle specific, that is, they only kill cells that are actively dividing, dacarbazine has a much stronger effect on rapidly dividing cancer cells than it does on healthy tissue.
Dacarbazine, like most anti-cancer drugs, has numerous side effects. The most severe ones include serious depression of the immune system and temporary sterility. Long-term treatment with dacarbazine can cause permanent sterility. Less serious, but still disabling side effects include fatigue, body aches and severe vomiting. Many of these side effects can be mitigated with the use of the proper drugs.