There are 2 main types of targeted therapy drugs:
- Monoclonal Antibodies: These generally work by blocking a specific target on the outside or surface of cancer cells, thereby killing the cell or prohibiting cell division or growth. Some monoclonal antibodies have radioactive material attached to them in order to enhance their effectiveness in destroying the cancer cells. Monoclonal antibodies are usually administered intravenously.
- Small Molecules: Drugs called “small-molecule drugs” can penetrate the cell membrane to interact with targets both inside and on the surface of cancer cells. Small molecule drugs for targeted therapy are usually taken orally.
The mechanism of action for the drugs will vary depending on the growth process of the specific cancer cells targeted.
Goals of Targeted Therapy for Cancer
When treating cancer using targeted therapy, whether alone or in conjunction with other treatments such chemo or radiation therapy, the goal of the treatment depends on the type and stage of the cancer targeted, as follows:
- To cure the cancer
- To inhibit the growth of cancer cells
- To destroy cancer cells that have the ability to spread to other parts of the body
- To help relieve symptoms caused by the cancer