What Is Targeted Therapy?

Targeted therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to target specific proteins in a tumour and affect how cancer cells grow, divide and multiply. It is a type of precision cancer treatment that is personalised for each patient. 

 

Here are some ways how targeted therapy works:

  • Enables the immune system to destroy cancer cells
  • Prevents or stops cancer cells from growing
  • Stops the signals needed to form new blood vessels 
  • Kills cancer cells based on the presence of proteins on cancer cells
  • Starves cancer cells of hormones that they need to grow

 

There are two types of targeted therapies:

  • Small-molecule drugs: The drugs used are small enough to enter cells, and targets are inside the cell.
  • Monoclonal antibodies: These are proteins produced in the lab designed to attach to particular target sites present on the cancer cells. While some monoclonal antibodies mark cells to enable the immune system to destroy them, others act directly on the cancer cells to either stop them from growing or kill them.

 

Targeted therapy is used along with other primary treatments in treating some cancers like melanoma and a few types of leukaemia.

Types of Cancers Treated With Targeted Therapy

There is plenty of ongoing research about the use of targeted therapy in treating different cancer types. Some of the cancers that are treated with targeted therapy include:

  • Breast cancers
  • Chronic myeloid leukaemia
  • Colorectal cancers
  • Lung cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Melanoma
  • Ovarian cancer

Who Is A Candidate For Targeted Therapy?

Targeted therapy is used to treat different types of cancers. Depending upon your cancer type, specific drugs are prescribed. But before that, the tumour is tested to determine if it has the required target markers for a particular drug. Targeted therapy is also preferred in patients who do not respond to other treatments, or the tumour is inoperable.

Targeted Therapy Procedure

The frequency and duration of your targeted therapy depend upon: 

  • Your cancer type 
  • How advanced it is
  • Type of targeted therapy
  • Your body’s reaction to treatment

Small molecule targeted therapy drugs are given as pills or capsules that can be swallowed, and monoclonal antibodies are given as an injection into a vein.

Benefits of Using Targeted Therapy In Cancer Treatment

Targeted therapy is an advanced treatment for cancer treatments. It has many benefits over traditional treatment options such as:

  • It is a precision treatment that is targeted directly to the cancer cells
  • It does not damage surrounding healthy tissues
  • It causes fewer side effects
  • Stimulates the body’s immune system to launch its attack against the cancer cells

Side Effects of Targeted Therapy

Side effects of targeted therapy differ from those observed in conventional radiation therapies and chemotherapy and depend upon the drug used for the treatment and the part of the body targeted. Not everyone undergoing targeted therapy experiences side effects.

Common side effects of targeted therapy include:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Fatigue
  • Liver problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Mouth sores
  • Changes in the nails
  • Problems with blood clotting and delayed wound healing
  • Skin problems

 

Most side effects of this treatment resolve by themselves after treatment completion. Ask your doctor about the expected side effects of your targeted therapy.

 

Contact Us

Speak to your doctor about your eligibility for targeted therapy. Your doctor will recommend a few tests, including a biopsy and a tumour marker test, to determine the presence of target sites for drugs. Need more information or a second opinion about your cancer treatment? Connect with us today!

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