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Targeted therapy for lung 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 lung cancer

Two targeted drugs used at CTCA for the treatment of some lung cancers are Iressa (gefitinib) and Tarceva (erlotinib). Both are taken in pill form and target a gene mutation in tumor cells. Patients who have this mutation are more likely to be responsive to this type of treatment.

Targeted cancer therapy may be used alone, in combination with other types of targeted therapy or with other lung cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy and interventional pulmonology.

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