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Targeted Therapy for Cancer

Targeted therapy is cancer treatment that uses medicines to attack specific targets or processes of cancer cells. Unlike chemotherapy or radiation treatment, targeted therapy affects only the cancer cells and not the other cells in the body.

It may be used alone but often is combined with other cancer treatments such as standard chemotherapy.

Targeted therapy can stop cancer cells from growing or spreading. It does this by blocking cell signals. It can also kill cancer cells directly. Examples of agents used for targeted therapy include:

  • Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs). One example is tamoxifen.
  • Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). One example is imatinib.
  • Monoclonal antibodies. One example is bevacizumab.

Cancer vaccines and gene therapy may be considered targeted therapies. They interfere with cancer cell growth.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerBrian Leber, MDCM, FRCPC - Hematology
Last RevisedDecember 14, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: December 14, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.