Targeted Therapies

Fingers holding test tubeTreatment that kills cancer cells can also affect normal cells. This can cause unwanted side effects. New drugs called targeted therapies help reduce damage to healthy cells. They focus more on cancer cells by interrupting the way cancer cells function and grow. They attack specific targets on or in the tumor cells. Not every person is eligible for targeted therapies. Your doctor might order a special test of your tumor called a molecular test or biomarker test. Talk to your doctor about your this type of testing and treatment recommendations, often called personalized or precision medicine. Targeted therapy drugs works in a variety different ways.

Targeted Lung Cancer Therapies Illustration

Mutations all affect a different part of the complicated communication systems within and between cells. These mutations affect the division and growth of cells. Therapies exist to target some of these mutations. Some of the more common targeted therapies include:

  • Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitorsDrugs that block receptors of proteins that aid in cancer cell growth.
  • Anti-angiogenesis therapyAngiogenesis is when cancerous tumors create new blood vessels, which helps them grow and spread. This therapy uses drugs to prevent the growth of new blood vessels to tumors.
  • Monoclonal antibodiesProteins made in a laboratory that can attach to tumor cells and tell the cell what to do. There are many types of monoclonal antibodies, each made to find one substance. They can be used alone or they can destroy the cell by carrying toxins to the tumor.

Cancer therapies are always changing. Talk to your doctor to determine if you are a candidate for targeted therapies or a clinical trial. For more information on targeted therapies, watch Dr. Edward Kim discuss personalized medicine.

Ask your doctor if you are eligible for targeted therapies. To get started, use this list of suggested questions.

Early detection of lung cancer can increase survival rates. Call the Lung Helpline at 1-800-LUNGUSA or talk to your doctor about lung cancer screening.