Targeted Therapies | American Lung Association

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Targeted Therapies

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Hear Dr. Edward Kim discuss how targeted therapy works

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Key Points

  • Tumor testing determines if a lung cancer tumor has a certain change or mutation that is making it grow.
  • Targeted therapies "target" these mutations in different ways.
  • Targeted lung cancer therapies are more specific and may have fewer side effects than chemotherapy.

Lung cancer treatment that kills cancer cells also can affect normal cells, causing unwanted side effects. New lung cancer drugs called targeted therapies help reduce damage to healthy cells. They focus on cancer cells by interrupting their growth and how they function. These therapies attack specific targets on or in the tumor cells. Not every person is eligible for targeted therapies for lung cancer. Your doctor might order a special test of your tumor called molecular testing or biomarker testing. Talk to your doctor about your testing options and treatment recommendations. Targeted therapy drugs work in different ways to chemotherapy.

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

What You Need to Know About Tumor Testing

What is tumor testing? What exactly should I be asking my doctor about it? Learn more about how tumor testing works, who benefits from it and what you need to discuss with your doctor in our question and answer guide to lung cancer tumor testing. Read What You Need to Know About Tumor Testing questions and answers.

Take Action

Lung cancer therapies are always changing. Talk to your doctor about getting your tumor tested see if you are a candidate for targeted lung cancer therapies and about joining a clinical trial for targeted therapy.

Download a list of suggested questions.

    Resources
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    Ask the Expert: Personalized Care - What You Need to Know

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    Approved by Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel. Last reviewed November 3, 2016.

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