Targeted Drug Therapy For Breast Cancer

Why Targeted Drug Therapy?

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with breast cancer, your doctor might suggest targeted drug therapy as part of your treatment plan. Targeted drug therapy is designed to target and destroy cancer cells while leaving healthy cells untouched. Here’s what you need to know about this type of treatment.

What is Targeted Drug Therapy?

Targeted drug therapy is a type of treatment that uses medicines to specifically target proteins on breast cancer cells and stop them from growing, spreading, or living longer. This can help slow down the growth of cancer cells and, in some cases, destroy them completely. There are several types of drugs used for targeted therapy for breast cancer, depending on the type of breast cancer you have.

Side effects

Side effects vary depending on the type of drug used, but can include fatigue, nausea and vomiting, mouth sores, hair loss, diarrhea, headache, and low blood cell counts. Low white blood cell counts can increase your risk of serious infection.

Take Away

Targeted drug therapy offers hope and a better quality of life for those suffering from breast cancer. If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, consult your doctor about targeted drug therapy as an option to help fight the disease. Working together, you can find the best treatment plan for you.

With new medications being developed all the time, researchers are hopeful that targeted drug therapy will be even more effective in the future. Until then, we can all enjoy the benefits that this innovative form of treatment has to offer those fighting breast cancer today.

Types of Targeted Therapy

Approximately 15-20% of all breast cancer cases are HER2-positive, meaning the cancer cells produce an excessive amount of a growth-promoting protein called HER2. These specific types tend to be more aggressive than other kinds of breast cancers; fortunately, there are drugs that specifically target the Her2 Protein in order to help combat it.

Monoclonal antibodies are man-made versions of immune system proteins (antibodies) designed to attach to a specific target—in this case, the HER2 protein on cancer cells. When the antibodies attach to the HER2 proteins, it can stop cancer cells from growing. Two of the most common drugs used for monoclonal antibodies are Trastuzumab (Herceptin) and Pertuzumab (Perjeta).

Another type of drug used for HER2-positive breast cancer is kinase inhibitors, which block the proteins responsible for sending signals that tell cells to grow (like HER2). Lapatinib (Tykerb) is a pill taken daily and is used for advanced breast cancer, usually in combination with trastuzumab and chemotherapy.

For women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer (cancer that relies on hormones to grow), certain targeted therapy drugs can make hormone therapy even more effective. In these cases, drugs known as CDK4/6 inhibitors (like Palbociclib, Ribociclib, and Abemaciclib) are used to block the proteins in cells responsible for telling them to divide. These drugs can slow down cancer cell growth.

Finally, for women with BRCA gene mutations—which prevent the genes responsible for repairing DNA from functioning properly—drugs known as PARP inhibitors (like Olaparib) are used. These drugs block proteins that help repair damaged DNA in cells, which can lead to the death of cancer cells.