Bone Cancer

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Treating Bone Cancer TOPICS

Targeted therapy for bone cancer

As researchers have learned more about the molecular and genetic changes in cells that cause cancer, they have been able to develop newer drugs that specifically target some of these changes. These drugs, often called targeted therapy drugs, work differently from standard chemotherapy (chemo) drugs and have different side effects. Targeted drugs are proving to be especially important in diseases such as chordomas and other bone cancers, where chemo has not been very useful.

Some chordomas have gene defects (mutations) that make proteins that signal the cells to grow. These genes are called c-kit, PDGFRA, and PDGFRB. The drug imatinib (Gleevec®) is a targeted therapy drug that can block the signals from these genes. This can cause some tumors to stop growing or even shrink a little. Imatinib is used to treat chordomas that have spread or have come back after treatment. Imatinib has been used to treat chordoma for several years, but it isn't approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat this type of cancer. It is approved to treat more common cancers.

Last Medical Review: 11/29/2012
Last Revised: 06/13/2013