Site Map

Targeted therapies for cancer

Molecularly targeted anticancer agents; MTAs; Chemotherapy-targeted; Vascular endothelial growth factor-targeted; VEGF-targeted; VEGFR-targeted; Tyrosine kinase inhibitor-targeted; TKI-targeted; Personalized medicine - cancer

Targeted therapy uses drugs to stop cancer from growing and spreading. It does this with less harm to normal cells than other treatments.

Standard chemotherapy works by killings cancer cells and some normal cells, targeted treatment zeroes in on specific targets (molecules) in or on cancer cells. These targets play a role in how cancer cells grow and survive. Using these targets, the drug disables the cancer cells so they cannot spread.

I Would Like to Learn About:

How Does Targeted Therapy Work?

Targeted therapy drugs work in a few different ways. They may:

People with the same type of cancer may have different targets in their cancer cells. So if your cancer does not have a specific target, the drug will not work to stop it. Not all therapies work for all people with cancer. At the same time, different cancers may have the same target.

To see if a targeted therapy might work for you, your health care provider may:

Some targeted therapies are given as pills. Others are injected into a vein (intravenous, or IV).

Who may get Targeted Therapy?

There are targeted therapies that can treat certain types of these cancers:

Other cancers that may be treated with targeted therapies include brain, bone, kidney, lymphoma, stomach, and many others.

Your provider will decide whether targeted therapies may be an option for your type of cancer. In most cases, you will receive targeted therapy along with surgery, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, or radiation therapy. You may receive these drugs as part of your regular treatment, or as part of a clinical trial.

Side Effects

Doctors thought that targeted therapies might have fewer side effects that other cancer treatment. But that turned out to be untrue. Possible side effects from targeted therapies include:

As with any treatment, you may or may not have side effects. They may be mild or severe. Fortunately, they usually go away after treatment ends. It is a good idea to talk with your provider about what to expect. Your provider may be able to help prevent or lessen some side effects.

Limitations

Targeted therapies are promising new treatments, but they have limitations.

References

Kummar S, Murgo AJ, Tomaszewski JE, Doroshow JH. Therapeutic targeting of cancer cells: era of molecularly targeted agents. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 28.

National Cancer Institute website. Targeted cancer therapies. www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types/targeted-therapies/targeted-therapies-fact-sheet. Updated November 6, 2017. Accessed December 15, 2017.

BACK TO TOP

Review Date: 10/21/2017  

Reviewed By: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

ADAM Quality Logo

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, for Health Content Provider (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2019 A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.