What is targeted cancer therapy?
As researchers have learned more about the differences in cancer cells (or other cells near them) that help them grow and thrive, they have been able to develop drugs that target these differences. Treatment with these drugs is often called targeted therapy.
Targeted therapy drugs, like other drugs used to treat cancer, are technically considered chemotherapy. But targeted therapy drugs don’t work the same way as standard chemotherapy (chemo) drugs. For example, many targeted drugs go after the cancer cells’ inner workings—the programming that sets them apart from normal, healthy cells. These drugs tend to have different (and often less severe) side effects than standard chemo drugs.
Targeted therapy is a special type of chemotherapy that takes advantage of small differences between normal cells and cancer cells. It’s sometimes used alone, but most often other cancer treatments are used with the targeted drug.
In the next few sections we will cover:
- How targeted therapies work
- Some of the main types of targeted therapy
- What you can expect if you’re being treated with targeted therapy
- Some common side effects of targeted drugs, including the skin side effects caused by certain drugs
- Answers to some common questions you might have about targeted therapy
Last Medical Review: 12/08/2014
Last Revised: 12/11/2014