Home |Site Map | Advertisement





Cancer Glossary Cancer Diet Guide Support Groups

Targeted Therapy for Cancer

Targeted therapy is a very advanced form of cancer treatment that is based upon our ever-evolving understanding of cells and how they behave when they become cancerous.  Targeted therapy treatments work by affecting cancerous cells and leaving healthy cells unaffected.  This means that it’s possible that the person receiving targeted therapy will receive fewer or less severe side effects than they might experience with other cancer treatments.  It should be remembered that the term ‘chemotherapy’ encompasses all forms of cancer treatments; however, because targeted therapy works a little differently than other chemotherapy treatments, it is sometimes talked about in separate terms.  

Preparation for Targeted Therapy:  Before you can begin receiving targeted therapy, or any other form of cancer treatment, you must first give consent.  Once you and your doctor have concluded that targeted therapy is the form of treatment you would like to pursue, your doctor will provide you with information about the drugs you will be receiving and what you can expect from them.  All drugs carry a risk of side effects, so you must be prepared to experience any or all of the side effects associated with the targeted therapy drug you will be taking.  Not everyone who takes a certain drug will experience any or all of the side effects, so you can talk to your doctor about what you are likely to experience  

Procedure:  Once your consent has been received (usually by signing a medical consent form), then you will receive a prescription for any medication you will take at home.  Depending on which medication you’ll be taking, you may need to be closely monitored in the beginning to see that the medication is doing what it needs to.  Your dose may be adjusted depending on how you respond to the medication.  Some forms of targeted therapy you will receive only from a health care provider, usually your doctor or a nurse experienced in giving chemotherapy treatments.  Medication that is given intravenously (through a vein) must be administered by someone experienced in working with chemotherapy drugs.  Other forms of targeted therapy, such as pills you can take at home, may not require direct supervision.  However, you may need to be closely monitored when starting a certain drug.  Your doctor will give you specific directions on how to use the medication that will be prescribed for you. 

Not all courses of drug treatment are on-going.  Some will take place over the course of several weeks or may be given to you in cycles.  Once a cycle has been completed, your targeted therapy may end or your doctor may start you on a new cycle.  

Types of Targeted Therapy:  Targeted therapy is available in more than one form.  The form you receive will depend on the kind of cancer that is being treated and on your current health condition.  Medications associated with targeted therapy come in pill form or IV solution.  If you are taking medication at home, you will most likely be using a medication in pill form.  Any IV (intravenous) drug you receive will be given to you at a hospital or clinic by someone who has experience administering drugs related to cancer treatment.  An IV dose may take place over the course of around 30 minutes, or may be given to you in a sustained pump that may last a day or more.   

Recovery Time:   Any side effects you experience while taking targeted therapy medications should be reported to your doctor.  After taking each dose at home or receiving a scheduled dose at a hospital or treatment center, you may experience fatigue or other side effects.  These may pass quickly, though they may last the length of your treatment.  You should talk to your doctor about your concerns regarding recovery time. 

Targeted Therapy Side Effects:  All medical procedures and treatments carry some degree of risk; any medication you receive has the potential to cause known and unknown side effects.  Your doctor can tell you about the risks associated with the targeted therapy specific to you; together, you can decide the wisest course to take.