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What Does "AUC" Mean in Chemotherapy?

Updated June 13, 2017

Chemotherapy is designed to kill cancerous cells. However, when it reaches a high concentration in the body it can begin to attack normal, healthy cells. It is therefore very important to monitor the level of chemotherapeutic drugs in the blood. Area Under the Curve (AUC) is a mathematical method of measuring drug concentrations.

Area Under the Curve

The "curve" referred to in AUC is the curve on a concentration-versus-time graph. The concentration of a drug in the patient's blood is plotted against the time when the sample was taken. The area beneath this curve is measured with basic calculus.

Calvert Formula

The calvert formula is commonly used to determine the best dose of chemotherapeutic drug for a patient. It states that the dose is equal to the desired AUC multiplied by the patient's glomerular filtration rate (GFR). GFR is a measure of how quickly a patient eliminates the drug from his body.

Clinical Uses

The calvert formula is used to determine the dose of chemotherapy drugs such as 5-fluorouracil and carboplatin. AUC is a quick measure of how much of the drug an individual has been exposed to in a given amount of time. Keeping the AUC within a defined range helps limit the dangerous side effects of chemotherapy.

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About the Author

Evelyn Broderick has been a writer since 2004. Her work has been published by the Jewish Alliance for Women in Science. She holds a Bachelor of Science in chemistry and biology from Macaulay Honors College and is pursuing an M.D./Ph.D. in immunology at Sloan Kettering. She is also a member of the New York Academy of Sciences.