What is targeted therapy?
Breast Cancer Targeted therapy uses drugs that block the growth of breast cancer cells in specific ways. For example, targeted therapy may block the action of an abnormal protein (such as HER2) that stimulates the growth of breast cancer cells.
The most well-known targeted therapy is trastuzumab (Herceptin).
Other targeted therapies are:
- bevacizumab (Avastin)
- everolimus (Afinitor)
- pertuzumab (Perjeta)
- T-DM1 (Kadcyla)
Denosumab (Xgeva) is a targeted therapy used for treatment of secondary breast cancer in the bone.
Targeted cancer therapies are treatments that target specific characteristics of cancer cells, such as a protein that allows the cancer cells to grow in a rapid or abnormal way. Targeted therapies are generally less likely than chemotherapy to harm normal, healthy cells. Some targeted therapies are antibodies that work like the antibodies made naturally by our immune systems. These types of targeted therapies are sometimes called immune targeted therapies.
What are the limitations to target therapy?
Targeted therapies do have some limitations. One is that cancer cells can become resistant to them. Resistance can occur in two ways: the target itself changes through mutation so that the targeted therapy no longer interacts well with it, and/or the tumour finds a new pathway to achieve tumour growth that does not depend on the target. (Breastcancer.org 2015).