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Targeted therapy for head and neck 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 head and neck cancer

One potential target in head and neck cancer is the epidermal growth factor receptor, or EGFR. Your doctor may suggest using an EGFR-targeted drug in combination with chemotherapy or radiation therapy for head and neck cancers, such as laryngeal or hypopharyngeal cancer. If the cancer has stopped responding to radiation and chemotherapy, then an EGFR-targeted drug may be used on its own to help control the disease.

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