Targeted Therapy for Soft Tissue Sarcoma

Targeted therapy uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack sarcoma cells while doing little damage to normal cells. These therapies attack parts of cancer cells that make them different from normal, healthy cells. Each type of targeted therapy works differently, but all of them affect the way a cancer cell grows, divides, repairs itself, or interacts with other cells. Targeted therapy is an important part of treatment for many kinds of cancer. As doctors learn more about the biology of sarcoma cells, targeted therapy is becoming another treatment option for this cancer, too.

Pazopanib (Votrient)

Pazopanib blocks several cell enzymes called tyrosine kinases that are important for cell growth and survival. It may be used to treat certain advanced soft tissue sarcomas that have not responded to chemotherapy. It can help slow tumor growth and ease side effects in patients with sarcomas that cannot be removed with surgery. So far, though, it's not clear that this drug helps patients live longer.

Pazopanib is taken in pill form, once a day.

Side effects

Common side effects include high blood pressure, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, headaches, changes in hair color, low blood cell counts, and liver problems. In some patients this drug causes abnormal results on liver function tests, but it rarely leads to severe liver damage that can be life threatening.

Bleeding, clotting, and wound healing problems are rare, but can occur as well. This drug also rarely causes a problem with the heart rhythm or even a heart attack.

If you're taking pazopanib, your doctor will monitor your heart with EKGs and do blood tests to check for liver problems or other changes.

More information about targeted therapy

To learn more about how targeted drugs are used to treat cancer, see Targeted Cancer Therapy.

To learn about some of the side effects listed here and how to manage them, see Managing Cancer-related Side Effects.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: April 6, 2018 Last Revised: May 14, 2019

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