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Targeted therapy is a cancer treatment that precisely targets and attacks cancer cells, leaving healthy cells alone which reduces side effects and allows doctors to use more potent drugs.

Targeted Therapy To Treat Cancer

The newest class of cancer drug is targeted therapy, also called molecularly targeted therapy or precision medicine. Traditional chemotherapy drugs attack all fast-growing cells in the body; however, targeted therapies have the ability to identify and attack just cancer cells. This means less damage to healthy cells and fewer side effects.

Targeted therapies attack the genetic molecules—usually proteins—that allow cancer cells to survive, multiply and spread. The key to targeted therapy is the ability to identify cancer cells and avoid healthy cells. 

Targeted therapy drugs are used at Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers to treat numerous types of cancer, including breast cancer, colon cancer, gynecologic cancers, leukemia, lymphoma, and lung cancer among others. However, not all cancers are receptive to targeted therapy. Patients will need to undergo tests to find out if their cancer has the gene mutations that make it likely to respond to targeted therapy.

Types of Targeted Therapies

Some targeted therapy drugs identify proteins that are found in cancer cells that are not present in normal cells. Others target cells with mutant proteins or chromosomal abnormalities that are only found in cancer cells.

There are many different forms of targeted therapies, with the most common targeting cancer cells by:

  • Blocking mutated proteins that create cancer cells
  • Turning off the chemical signals that allow cancer cells to grow and divide
  • Preventing blood vessels from feeding cancer cells, causing them to die
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