To help our patients better understand their cancer treatment options, Oncology Associates created a video to provide more information on what targeted therapy is and how it works. We’ve also added a new targeted cancer therapy page.

Targeted therapy may sometimes be an option for certain patients for their cancer treatment. This type of therapy involves using cancer drugs that “target” specific cancer inducing cells or proteins. Unlike traditional standard chemotherapy treatments, targeted therapies go directly after the patient’s cancer cells, while generally leaving their normal, healthy cells alone.

There are currently a number of targeted therapies that have recently been approved by the FDA to treat different types of cancers. For instance, patients with HER2-positive breast cancer may be candidates for breast cancer targeted therapies such as Herceptin or Kadcyla (TDM-1). There are also other targeted therapies that may be used for colorectal cancer, lung cancer (Gilotrif) and Melanoma.

Compared to standard chemotherapy treatments which sometimes cause several side effects, including hair loss, the side effects from these targeted cancer drugs are generally less. There may still be side effects associated with them such as skin rashes or high blood pressure. Please visit our Targeted Therapy page for more information on possible side effects.

While the use of targeted therapy is relatively new, only a few cancers can be eliminated with just the use of these drugs alone. Generally, most cancer patients will receive a combination of targeted therapy with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or hormonal therapy.

Not all patients will be good candidates for a targeted therapy, as a patient’s tumor tissue must be tested first to verify that they do in fact have an appropriate target, such as a specific gene mutation.