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Targeted Options

Cancer Treatment

Targeted Therapy Options

Target therapy drugs work differently than standard chemotherapy drugs which are used to treat any cell that is rapidly dividing. During traditional chemotherapy treatment, healthy cells are often killed. Targeted drugs work differently than standard chemo by targeting what makes the cancer cell divide or grow and often target a specific protein within the cell. Researchers have found that a specific type of cancer cell, such as a colon cancer cell, can differ from patient to patient. Through clinical trials and research over the last 5 years, these targeted therapy drugs are now available to treat many different genetically mutated genes and frequently have fewer side effects than standard chemo.

Targeted therapy comes in two forms:

  • Monoclonal antibody drugs (biologics) – Man-made antibodies that are designed to target a specific function on a cancer cell or other type of cell
  • Small-molecule drugs – these are not antibodies, but chemicals similar to other forms of chemo

Targeted drugs can also be grouped by what part of the cell they target. Some of the more common types are signal transduction inhibitors, angiogenesis inhibitors, apoptosis-inducing, and immunotherapies.

A list of targeted therapy drugs includes:

  • Erlotinib
  • Gemcitabine
  • Afatinib
  • Bevacizumab
  • Ceritinib
  • Crizotinib
  • Nivolumab

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Genetic research on the different types of cancer cells is ongoing. Many new target therapy drugs are in the development stages and, with the help of clinical trials, will soon be readily available. Targeted therapy can be used alone or with other treatment options such as chemotherapy or radiation.

Different drugs treat different types of cancer, meaning the chosen drug is dependent on the type of cancer the patient has and what stage they are in.

Targeted Therapy Success Rate

The success rate of target therapy is about 70-80%. Approximately 50% of the people who participate, go into complete remission.

Targeted therapy can have some really good benefits including less harm to normal cells, fewer side effects, and improved quality of life, and it can last up to one year. As with any treatment, there are certain drawbacks as well which include the risk of the cancer cells resisting the therapy.

Target Therapy Side Effects

There can be side effects which may include any of the following:


  • Allergic reactions
  • Low blood counts
  • Birth defects
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Heart damage
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Mouth or tongue sores
  • Skin changes
  • The potential risk of additional cancer

Targeted Therapy Results

Targeted therapy can last up to one year. The cost of target therapy can be upwards of tens of thousands of dollars a month and some costing half a million dollars. The price varies depending on the type of therapy you receive. Targeted therapy is important as it can improve the patients’ overall survival rate and it can decrease the harsh side effects of the cancer treatment. As with any treatment, each patient responds differently to the therapy. Cutting-edge technology that is being developed every day is helping to identify more actionable targets.