When is it used?
Each cancer is unique so targeted therapy may not work as effectively for all types of cancer. However, it has become a standard part of cancer treatment and can be implemented:
- Before other types of treatment, such as surgery
- Alone or in combination with treatments, such as chemotherapy
- To treat cancer that are resistant to other treatments.
How do they work?
Cancer occurs when some genes in healthy cells change and start mutating. So if genes begin to mutate, proteins in cells also change. It causes cells to grow too quickly and live longer than they should. Eventually, these cells accumulate and form a tumour.
Therefore, researchers first identify these genetic changes and proteins that are only present in cancerous cells. Once they identify the mutation, they develop a medicine that prevents specific changes. It can include:
- Destroying the cancer cells. Cancer cells grow because they can hide from the immune system.
- Some targeted therapies can help identify the target cells and boost the immune system to destroy them.
- Stopping cancer cells from growing. Some cancer cells have changes in the protein that allow them to grow rapidly. Some target therapies prevent these changes, preventing cancer’s abnormal growth.
- Preventing the cells from living longer than usual. Cancer cells keep on living due to mutations. However, some targeted therapies use cell-killing substances, which causes them to die.
What are the types of targeted therapies?
There are several types of targeted therapies, which include:
- Small-molecule drugs are small enough to get inside the cells, so they’re used to target cells internal structure. They can prevent cells from multiplying and spreading more effectively.
- Monoclonal antibodies are too big to get inside the cells, so they target the outside of the cells. It can also work by blocking the blood flow to the tumours and halts their growth.
- Hormone therapies stop the bodies from making certain hormones that some cancers need to grow and spread.
- Signal transduction inhibitors block the signal that allows the cells to grow too much and too fast.
- Gene expression modulators change the proteins that control the abnormal expressions in the genes.
- Angiogenesis inhibitors block the blood vessels that provide nutrients and oxygen to cancer.
- Apoptosis inducers ensure cancer cells die naturally like healthy cells, which prevent them from forming a tumour.
To find the most-effective treatment, our doctors evaluate the patient’s genes, proteins and other characteristics of the tumour.
What are the benefits of targeted therapy?
Targeted therapies enables oncologists to design a more-effective cancer treatment that have better outcomes and minimum chances of relapses. Other benefits include:
- Less harm to healthy cells
- Fewer side effects
- Improved quality of life
Who gets targeted therapy?
Our doctors will perform a biopsy and test the tumour tissues to identify the most viable targets to treat cancer. Some of these targets are:
- Breast cancer: About 25% of cases of breast cancer have too much protein, which is human epidermal factor receptor 2 (HER2)
- Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML): In most cases, the cancer is caused by the BCR-ABL gene, which leads to the production of BCR-ABL protein.
- Colorectal cancer: In most cases, cancer makes epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), which control cancer growth.
- Lung cancer: Some lung cancer has ALK and ROS gene mutation and EGFR protein.
- Lymphoma: In most cases, cancer causes an overproduction of white blood cells.
- Melanoma: Almost half of this cancer have a BRAF gene mutation that can become a good target for therapies.
In addition, different forms of targeted therapies are being used to used treat various kinds of cancer. Few of these are:
- Brain cancer
- Gastronomical cancers
- Kidney cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Thyroid cancer
What are the side effects?
Targeted therapy can cause various side effects that depend on therapy type and the body’s reactions to it. Some common side effects can include:
- Skin problems, such as rash and itching
- Sensitivity to sunlight
- Dry skin
- Swelling and pain on fingernails and toenails
- Hair loss