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Targeted therapy for bone cancer

What is targeted therapy?

Targeted therapy blocks the growth and spread of cancer by preventing cancer cells from dividing or destroying them directly.

While standard chemotherapy affects all cells in the body, targeted therapy directs drugs or other specially created substances (e.g., man-made immune system proteins) to attack cancer cells. The goal of targeted therapy is to interfere with specific molecules involved in tumor growth to block the growth and spread of the disease.

Because targeted therapy specifically seeks out cancer cells, it can avoid harm to healthy cells. In turn, targeted therapy may have fewer side effects than standard chemotherapy.

Targeted therapy for bone cancer

Researchers have found that some chordomas have defects in specific genes known as c-kit, PDGFRA and PDGFRB, which are involved in regulating the growth of cells. Imatinib (Gleevec®) is a targeted drug that has been shown to be effective in some patients in treating cancers with mutations in these genes, and may sometimes be used to treat chordomas that have metastasized or returned after previous treatment.

A common treatment for some cancers that spread to the bone, such as metastatic breast cancer to bone, is Zometa®, which is in a class of drugs called bisphosphonates. Generally administered through an infusion, this targeted drug therapy is used to reduce the risk of bone complications, such as fractures.

Additional targeted drugs are being evaluated for use in other bone cancers.

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