Targeted therapy is a type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific cancer cells without harming normal cells. Monoclonal antibodies and tyrosine kinase inhibitors are two types of targeted therapy being used in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer.
Monoclonal antibody therapy is a cancer treatment that uses antibodies made in the laboratory from a single type of immune system cell. These antibodies can identify substances on cancer cells or normal substances that may help cancer cells grow. The antibodies attach to the substances and kill the cancer cells, block their growth, or keep them from spreading. Monoclonal antibodies are given by infusion. They may be used alone or to carry drugs, toxins, or radioactive material directly to cancer cells.
Monoclonal antibodies used to treat non-small cell lung cancer include bevacizumab and cetuximab. Bevacizumab binds to vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and may prevent the growth of new blood vessels that tumors need to grow. Cetuximab binds to epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and works to stop cancer cells from growing and dividing.
Tyrosine kinase inhibitors are targeted therapy drugs that block signals needed for tumors to grow. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors may be used with other anticancer drugs as adjuvant therapy.
Tyrosine kinase inhibitors used to treat non-small cell lung cancer include erlotinib and gefitinib. They are types of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors.
Laser therapy is a cancer treatment that uses a laser beam (a narrow beam of intense light) to kill cancer cells.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT)
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a cancer treatment that uses a drug and a certain type of laser light to kill cancer cells. A drug that is not active until it is exposed to light is injected into a vein. The drug collects more in cancer cells than in normal cells. Fiberoptic tubes are then used to carry the laser light to the cancer cells, where the drug becomes active and kills the cells. Photodynamic therapy causes little damage to healthy tissue. It is used mainly to treat tumors on or just under the skin or in the lining of internal organs.
Cryosurgery is a treatment that uses an instrument to freeze and destroy abnormaltissue, such as carcinoma in situ. This type of treatment is also called cryotherapy.
Electrocautery is a treatment that uses a probe or needle heated by an electric current to destroy abnormal tissue.
Watchful waiting is closely monitoring a patient's condition without giving any treatment until symptoms appear or change. This may be done in certain rare cases of non-small cell lung cancer.
New types of treatment are being tested in clinical trials.