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Targeted therapy for skin 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 skin cancer

The development of targeted therapy is an exciting area in the treatment of skin cancers. One new targeted drug, ZelborafTM (vemurafenib), was recently approved by the FDA for the treatment of metastatic melanoma that contains a specific mutated form of a protein known as BRAF. If you have metastatic melanoma, your CTCA doctors may want to test your cancer for the presence of the BRAF mutation. If it is positive, they may discuss whether this type of targeted therapy is right for you.

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