Targeted Therapies Offered to Block Cancer Cell Growth

 

This 3D medical animation about targeted cancer cell therapy depicts normal cell division, apoptosis, tumor cell formation, tumor development, and angiogenesis of a tumor.

The medical oncologists of Medical Oncology and Hematology at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland work with a multidisciplinary team to assess whether or not a cancer patient is a good candidate for targeted therapies.

What are Targeted Therapies?

Targeted therapies is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to block the growth and spread of cancer cells by interrupting and targeting certain molecules needed in the tumor to grow.  Targeted therapies are sometimes used alone or in combination with other cancer treatments like chemotherapy, and are less harmful to normal cells.

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Types of Targeted Therapies

Currently, many types of targeted therapies are used to treat cancer. The two most common types of targeted therapies are antibody drugs and small-molecule drugs. Antibody drugs target the outside of the cancer cell or the surface of the cell. Small molecule drugs usually target the inside of the cancer cell.

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How do Targeted Therapies work?

Targeted therapies work by blocking or disrupting the cancer cell process from growing and progressing. Cancer cells go through a process called carcinogenesis or the transformation of normal cells into cancer cells. This process is followed by the cancer cells growing into tumors throughout the body. 

The drugs used in targeted therapy block specific parts of the cell that the cancer needs to develop and keep spreading. The drugs used in targeted therapy often have less severe side effects than traditional chemotherapy and are less harmful to non-cancerous cells.

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How are Targeted Therapies delivered?

Targeted therapies can be delivered in a variety of settings, including: at home, the doctor’s office, in a clinic, the outpatient department in a hospital and in a hospital. Your treatments may be given daily, weekly or monthly.

The most familiar way to administer targeted therapies is in a pill form or intravenously (IV). The IV  can be given in three ways:

  • IV Push – drug is inserted in a catheter from a syringe in minutes.
  • IV Infusion – the drug takes about 30 minutes and it flows from a plastic bag with tubing that is attached to a catheter. The distribution of the drug is controlled by an IV pump.
  • Continuous Infusion – controlled by an electric IV pump and can take from up to seven days.

Several issues will determine the length of the targeted therapy treatment:

  • Type of cancer
  • Desired outcome
  • Type of drug used
  • How the body reacts to the drug
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What are the side effects of Targeted Therapies?

The most common side effects from targeted therapy drugs include:

  • Skin issues (rash, dry skin, itching, sore cuticles)
  • Hand-foot syndrome
  • Changes in growth of hair
  • Changes in color of skin and hair
  • Change in blood pressure
  • Bleeding and blotting issues
  • Wound healing
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Mouth sores
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Swelling of hands and feet
  • Low blood cell counts