The decision on how to treat you or your loved one’s diagnosis can be a challenging process that may be the last thing on your mind when battling cancer. As health and science innovate each and every day, many options for treatment are available that have increased effectiveness in certain situations. One of the available treatments is targeted therapy, the base of precision medicine. Our New Jersey Hematology & Oncology specialists have provided an overview of targeted therapy and how it works.
What is Targeted Therapy?
Targeted therapy is a type of cancer treatment that targets specific proteins that can help control how cancer cells grow, divide, and spread throughout the body. Targeted therapy has been developed over the years as medical professionals began learning more about how changes in DNA and protein play into cancer processes. There are two major types of targeted therapy that are mostly used. The first type is targeted therapy by utilizing small-molecule drugs. Small-molecule drugs allow for treatment by the ability to enter cells easily due to their size. With that being said, this type is used to treat cancer from inside the cell rather than outside. The second type of target therapy is the use of monoclonal antibodies. Monoclonal antibodies are proteins that have been designed in a lab to bind to specific cancer cells in the body. Once these antibodies are bonded to the cancer cells, they either mark the cells for natural immune system treatment or prevent them from growing further.
How Does Targeted Therapy Work?
The common types of targeted therapy treat cancer by using specific proteins to compromise the tumor’s growth and spread. These proteins perform their treatment in many ways. One of the ways is by helping aid the immune system in treating cancer cells. Cancer cells are problematic to treat due to how they can hide away from the body’s natural defense. Targeted therapies help tackle this by boosting your system to show how to fight off cancer cells.
Certain targeted therapies may prevent cancer cells from replicating in the body as well. Naturally, cells in the body receive signals to their proteins that lead to cells replicating and multiplying. Targeted therapies send new signals that bind to cancer cell proteins that prevent signals of replication from reaching the cancer cells, which allow growth to be controlled.
Additionally, targeted therapies can be hormonal-based treatments. Certain cancers such as breast and prostate cancers require certain hormones to continue expanding. Certain targeted therapies interact with hormones to help control the spread of cancer in the body. These hormonal therapies either prevent your body from making a specific hormone or prevent your cells from receiving the hormone, including cancer cells.
Drawbacks of Targeted Therapy
Targeted therapy treatments do have some drawbacks to be mindful of before undergoing treatment. The biggest drawback is cancer cells possibly becoming resistant to the treatment regimen. This drawback signals that targeted therapy should be done as a secondary treatment to complement a primary treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation. Lastly, the limitation of drugs available to provide an effective treatment plan. A lot of research is being conducted on cancer prevention and treatment. This results in certain drugs being hard to develop to target specific structures or functions in the cells. In certain cases, targeted therapy might not be an option due to the type of cancer you or your loved one is facing.
If you have any questions or concerns, reach out to Comprehensive Cancer & Hematology Specialists at (856) 435-1777!