Targeted therapy is a special type of chemotherapy that attacks colorectal cancer cells without harming normal cells. Colorectal cancer targeted therapy can help patients with advanced colorectal cancer live longer. Regular chemotherapy kills cancer cells, but it also harms healthy cells. In contrast, targeted therapy zeroes in on specific molecules that exist only in cancer cells. By finding these molecules, targeted therapy can block cancer cells from reproducing and the cancer from growing and spreading.
Patients on targeted therapy usually have less severe, and different, side effects than what is experienced after regular chemotherapy.
Colorectal Cancer Targeted therapy is used in patients with advanced cancer
It sometimes works when standard chemotherapy drugs don’t. At Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers, we use targeted therapy along with regular chemotherapy or alone.
Right now, there are six targeted therapy drugs that have been approved for use in patients with advanced colorectal cancer. Four of them are appropriate for most patients:
- Bevacizumab (Avastin)
- Ramucirumab (Cyramza)
- Regorafenib (Stivarga)
- Ziv-aflibercept (Zaltrap)
The other two targeted therapy drugs work in patients with a certain type of genetic change called wild-type KRAS mutation:
- Cetuximab (Erbitux)
- Panitumumab (Vectibix)
Stopping the Engine of Colorectal Cancer
Researchers are continuing to study other cellular targets that they can use to develop new drugs for advanced colorectal cancer. Cancer stem cells are one of those targets.
Cancer stem cells are particularly nasty cells that can divide and produce more cancer cells. In some people, cancer stem cells make the cancer come back and spread to other parts of the body (metastatic cancer). Unfortunately, chemotherapy and radiation don’t work against them.
If we can find a way to stop or destroy cancer stem cells with a targeted therapy, it would stop the growth of the cancer. Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers is currently participating in a clinical trial of a targeted therapy called Napabucasin (BBI608) that is a cancer stem cell inhibitor. This trial is testing the effectiveness and safety of the therapy in patients with advanced colorectal cancer.
Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers is Colorado’s only nationally recognized, community-based research program offering clinical trials for all major cancer types. Our goal is to bring the world’s most advanced treatments to patients in the communities where they live. Through our research, we have helped advance nearly one-third of all new cancer therapies approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.