Targeted therapy uses medications to seek out cancer cells and destroy them. With breast cancer, medications such as
trastuzumab, bevacizumab, or
lapatinib modify the body's immune system to treat cancer.
A specific oncogene, human epidural growth factor receptor 2 (HER2/neu), is associated with nearly 30% of breast cancers. These cancers also have a tendency to be more aggressive. HER2 enhances the development and progression of certain types of breast cancer. Targeted therapy inhibits specific characteristics of cancer cells, such as blood vessel growth, which the tumor needs in order to grow.
Targeted therapies are used for early- and late-stage breast cancers
Because these medications target cancer cells specifically, the side effects are not as severe as with chemotherapy drugs. Side effects may include: DiarrheaSkin rashCoughLow blood counts, which can lead to anemia or neutropeniaHeadacheFatigueRapid heartbeat—tachycardiaDifficulty breathingHeart failureHeart muscle damage—cardiomyopathy
Your doctor will talk to you about the risks and benefits of targeted therapy treatment. A variety of treatments are available to help manage side effects including medication, lifestyle changes, and alternative treatments. The earlier the side effects are addressed, the more likely they will be controlled with a minimum of discomfort.
Breast cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003090-pdf.pdf. Accessed November 2, 2015.
Breast cancer. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gynecology-and-obstetrics/breast-disorders/breast-cancer. Updated September 2013. Accessed November 2, 2015.
Hackshaw A. Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) agonists in the treatment of breast cancer.
Expert Opin Pharmacother.
Treatment option overview. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/types/breast/patient/breast-treatment-pdq#section/_185. Updated October 22, 2015. Accessed November 2, 2015.
Last reviewed December 2015 by Mohei Abouzied, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.