All anticancer drugs target tumors in some way. Most conventional treatments, however, attack healthy cells as well as cancer cells. As a result, there can be serious side effects from the treatment.
A newer approach to cancer treatment, molecularly targeted therapy, may help reduce side effects. The medication takes a more direct aim at cancer cells, and that means less damage to healthy cells.,/p>
Targeted therapies are designed to recognize a specific molecular change in a cancer cell that drives the growth and spread of a tumor. By zeroing in on its molecular target, these new medications destroy or slow the growth of cancer cells while avoiding normal, healthy cells. And because healthy tissues are spared, targeted therapies tend to bring about fewer and less severe side effects than conventional treatments.
Some targeted therapies home in on tumors by seeking out molecules found only in cancer cells. Other targeted agents seek out molecules that are more abundant in cancer cells than in healthy cells. And still other treatments are focused on processes that are more important to the growth of cancer cells than normal cells.