Targeted drug therapy is one of the most promising types of cancer treatment that uses specialized drugs to attack cancer cells while doing minimum damage to normal cells. It uses a combination of drugs that targets specific parts of a cancer cell’s component, such as genes or protein.
Targeted therapies can also affect the blood supply to tumours, which causes the cancer cells to starve and die without any side effects. They are used to treat more than 15 types of cancer, such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, and lung cancer. However, the outcome of targeted therapy may depend on cancer’s type and extent.
The functioning is limited for target therapy as the targets vary from cancer to cancer. Therefore, our doctors have to test the tumour to identify the correct target and drug. It can also be administered pre or post-surgery to make it more effective and improve the outcomes from cancer treatment.
How do they work?,
Every day, millions of cells grow and divide to form new cells. But sometimes, cells do not die when they should and form a mass of tissue called a tumour. Various gene mutations can contribute to cancer growth. But when genes begin to mutate, proteins in cells also change, which allow them to reproduce excessively and live longer than normal cells.
Each type of cancer has a specific gene mutation. When we identify these genetic changes and proteins, we can develop a specialized drug that prevents these changes. These drugs can work to:
- Destroy the cancer cells: Cancer cells grow because they can evade the immune system. Targeted therapies can help the immune system identify and destroy cancerous cells.
- Stopp cancer cells from growing: Most cancer cells have changes in the protein that allow them to grow and spread. Target therapies can suppress these changes and prevent cancer’s abnormal growth.
- Prevent the cells from living longer than usual:Cancer cells keep on living while healthy cells die. Hence, targeted therapies use cell-killing substances to ensure they die and don’t form a tumour.
Our doctors will run several tests to evaluate the patient’s genes, proteins and other characteristics of the tumour. Based on test results, they will plan the most effective treatment option to cure cancer and prevent a recurrence. It can include:
- Small-molecule drugs: These drugs are small enough to get inside the cells. Hence, they directly target cells internal structure and prevent cancer from multiplying and spreading more effectively.
- Monoclonal antibodies: These drugs are too big to get inside the cells, so they target the outer structure of cancer cells. They can block supply and blood flow to the tumours and halts their growth.
- Hormone therapies: They can stop or increase the production of certain hormones to prevent cancers from growing and spreading.
- Signal transduction inhibitors: They can also block the signal that enables cancer cells to grow too much and too fast.
- Gene expression modulators: Targeted therapies can also change the proteins that control the abnormal mutations in the genes.
- Angiogenesis inhibitors: They can block the blood vessels that provide nutrients and oxygen to cancer cells.
- Apoptosis inducers: These drugs induce a process that ensures cancer cells die naturally like healthy cells before turning malignant.
Targeted therapies enable oncologists to devise a cancer treatment that provides better outcomes and minimum risks of relapses. Other benefits include:
- Minimum harm to healthy cells: One significant advantage that targeted therapies is that they tend to be less toxic to non-cancerous cells.
- Fewer side effects: They tend to have fewer effects on healthy cells and cause fewer side effects.
- Improved effectiveness: Because they tend to have fewer effects and are less toxic, targeted therapies can cure cancer without any complications.
- Improved quality of life: Targeted therapy can also be given to patients who may not otherwise be candidates for surgical or cytotoxic treatment.
Targeted therapy can cause side effects due to the body’s reactions to the drug. These side effects can include:
- Skin problems, such as rash and itching
- Sensitivity to sunlight
- Dry skin
- Swelling and pain on fingernails and toenails
- Hair loss