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targeted therapy

Targeted therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs or other substances to precisely identify and attack cancer cells, usually while doing minimal damage to normal cells. Unlike traditional chemotherapy, which affects all rapidly dividing cells, targeted therapies are designed to target specific pathways or proteins that are involved in the growth, progression, and spread of cancer. Key aspects of targeted therapy include:

1. Molecular Targets: These therapies focus on specific molecular targets that are associated with cancer. These targets can include proteins, genes, or other molecules that play a role in tumor growth and survival.

2. Types of Targeted Therapy: There are several types, including:

· Small Molecule Drugs: These can enter cells easily and target molecules inside the cell, often enzymes or proteins involved in cell signaling pathways.
· Monoclonal Antibodies: These are immune system proteins created in the lab that can attach to specific targets on the outside of cancer cells or nearby.

3. Mechanisms of Action: Targeted therapies can work in various ways, such as by blocking or turning off chemical signals that tell cancer cells to grow and divide, targeting and killing cancer cells directly, or starving cancer of the hormones it needs to grow.

4. Personalized Medicine: Targeted therapy is a cornerstone of personalized medicine, as treatments are often selected based on the specific genetic and molecular profile of a patient's tumor.

5. Cancer Types: These therapies have been developed for many types of cancer, including breast cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, and melanoma. The effectiveness of a particular targeted therapy can vary from one cancer type to another and from one patient to another.

6. Side Effects: Although targeted therapies are generally less harmful to normal cells than traditional chemotherapy, they can still cause side effects. The nature of these side effects depends on the type of targeted therapy and the individual.

7. Resistance: Over time, cancer cells may become resistant to targeted therapy, making the treatment less effective. This is a significant area of ongoing research.

8. Combination Therapies: Targeted therapies are often used in combination with other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy.

9. Diagnostic Testing: Before starting a targeted therapy, patients often undergo diagnostic tests to determine if their cancer cells have the specific targets that can be attacked by these therapies.

Targeted therapy represents a significant advancement in cancer treatment, offering the potential for more effective and less toxic treatment options. Continuous research is underway to develop new targeted therapies and to understand how best to use these treatments in the fight against cancer.


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If you know of any terms that have been omitted from this glossary that you feel would be useful to include, please send detail to the Editorial Office at GenScript: [email protected]

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