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Targeted Therapies

Cancer cells depend on certain proteins and genes to live and grow. Targeted therapies are treatment methods to remove conditions that allow cancer cells to grow and survive in your body, particularly proteins and genes. 


Targeted therapies can treat different types of cancers. Doctors use targeted therapies as the main treatment strategy or in combination with other treatments like chemotherapy.

How do targeted therapies work?

Cancer cells are normal cells that undergo genetic changes that alter their behavior or function over time. Researchers identify these changes and the genes and proteins that are responsible for them and develop drugs to combat them. 


Targeted drugs are effective because they do not attack healthy cells when destroying cancer cells. Some of the ways targeted therapies work are:

  • Blocking or turning off signals that allow cancer cells to grow and divide
  • Prevent cells from exceeding the normal lifespan
  • Kill cancer cells


Before your doctor recommends a targeted therapy for your cancer, they’ll have to carry out tests to find out the genes, proteins, and other characteristics of your cancer.


The dose and timeline of the therapy depend on your weight and risk of having severe side effects. 

What are the different targeted therapies?

There are different types of targeted therapies. However, the two most common are small-molecule drugs and monoclonal antibodies.


Small-molecule drugs


Small-molecule drugs are therapies that prevent the cancer from growing or multiplying. A good example is angiogenesis inhibitors that prevent blood vessels from forming around the cancer cells. Lack of blood vessels starves and kills the cancer cells. There are many other small-molecule drugs.


Monoclonal antibodies


Monoclonal antibodies can work in two ways on a cancer cell. They can block specific targets on the cancer cell or around the cell. They can also destroy the cancer cells themselves, especially when combined with other therapies such as chemotherapy.


Some monoclonal antibodies fall into the category of immunotherapy.

What are the side effects of targeted therapies?

Side effects of targeted therapies vary with each specific therapy. However, some of the common side effects may include the following:

  • Mouth sores
  • Loss of hair color
  • Dry skin or rashes
  • Fatigue
  • Slow-healing wounds or delayed blood clotting
  • Diarrhea


Your doctor will discuss with you any severe side effects associated with your specific therapy. In addition, medication is available to reduce most of these side effects, which go away after treatment ends.

How effective is targeted therapy?

Just like other cancer treatment therapies, the effectiveness of targeted therapies varies for every person and cancer. Getting targeted therapy is a complex process that involves several tests. However, the drugs are effective once it acquires its intended target.


Some of the key things to understand before enrolling for targetted therapy are that:

  • For the therapy to work, cancer must have specific genetic changes or proteins the drug is looking for
  • Cancer may not respond to the therapy even with the genetic changes and target proteins present 
  • The therapy may not be effective if cancer mutates or changes during treatment


Your doctor may also combine targeted therapy with other approaches like surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy for the best outcomes depending on your cancer type.

How is a targeted therapy administered?

Once your doctor has settled on the specific therapy for you, you can receive the therapy in two ways. You will take small-molecule targeted therapies as either pills or capsules. On the other hand,  you’ll receive monoclonal therapies through a needle in your blood veins.


Visit International Cancer Institute to review your options for targeted therapy today!

At International Cancer Institute, we work hard to ensure our patients get the best care for their type of cancer. We take you through the entire process of your care plan, explaining every detail as simply as we can. In addition, we use the latest targeted therapies that give the best outcomes for you.


Before enrolling you into any therapy, we perform all the tests and investigations to see if the targeted therapy is the best for you. We can also combine our targeted therapy with other treatment plans like chemotherapy or radiation therapy to give you the best care.


Take advantage of our well-equipped facility today and begin your care with the best oncologists in Kenya!

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