Targeted therapy uses drugs and other chemicals to block, interfere or disrupt the biological and chemical processes that enable cancer cells to grow at a rapid rate and spread.
Doctors use targeted therapies to fight many forms of cancer including breast cancer. Doctors first used the technique for a specific and common form of breast cancer.
Targeted therapy addresses specific characteristics of breast cancer cells. For example, one form of targeted therapy seeks to disrupt a protein that is involved with the rapid and abnormal growth of cancer cells.
Other targeted therapies block new blood vessels needed by cancer cells to fuel growth or disrupt chemical signals cancer cells need for growth.
Your doctor may recommend targeted therapy for treatment of your breast cancer. Whether you are a good candidate for targeted therapy will depend on several factors. Not every patient is a good candidate for targeted therapy.
You will receive targeted therapies either intravenously or by pill. Your doctor may recommend targeted therapy in connection with chemotherapy.
One of the benefits of targeted therapy is it usually does not damage large numbers of healthy cells while attacking cancer cells. Side effects are generally not as severe as chemotherapy, but can vary from patient to patient.
Because it is possible for cancer cells to develop a resistance to targeted therapy drugs, doctors often use it in combination with other treatments.
There are several approved targeted therapies for breast cancer and clinical studies continue to look for new and better treatments.
Researchers study how to identify and use drugs and chemicals to address specific cancer cell properties. The goal is to match specific targeted therapies to specific types of cancer cells.
Eventually, researchers hope to give doctors the ability to create individualized targeted therapy plans that have the best chance of working for each person.