We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Targeted Therapy?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGEEK is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGEEK, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Targeted therapy is cancer treatment with medications engineered to latch onto specific molecules to interfere with cellular processes, killing the cancer and limiting its spread. Such drugs are less invasive than traditional chemotherapy and can come with lower rates of damage to neighboring tissue, translating into fewer side effects and more comfort for the patient during the course of treatment. Numerous medications are available on the market, by prescription, and many more are in development at pharmaceutical companies.

To develop a targeted therapy, first a company needs to identify a target. It looks for a distinctive molecule only found in the cancer cells so it can exploit the cancer's weakness. Therapies may work in a number of ways. Some block metabolism, making it impossible for cells to divide and grow. Others interfere with nutrient uptake, causing cancer cells to divide, or triggering cell death. The drugs can also tag cancer cells for elimination by the immune system, allowing the body to do the work. Most interrupt cell signaling processes in some way.

This process can be very lengthy. It may involve synthetic drugs or drugs from nature, many of which are candidates for synthetic production after drug companies learn about their composition. Then the company tests the drug to make sure it is suitable and reasonably safe, before releasing it onto the market. Patients can often access clinical trials with new drugs if they meet the participant requirements, allowing them more chances at treatment if they do not respond to conventional therapies.

For some targeted therapy, the patient needs to receive testing first to see if the cancer will respond. All cancers are not alike, and may not contain the necessary molecules. If the cancer appears responsive, the patient can start taking the medication. Some patients must travel to chemotherapy infusion clinics while others can take drugs at home. In both cases, careful monitoring for side effects is important and the patient also needs follow-up appointments to check on the cancer's growth and spread.

Many of these medications are under patent and expensive. The benefits of targeted therapy can include decreased side effects, better chances of a positive outcome, and less need for multidrug regimens, many of which can be very grueling for patients. When a patient receives a cancer diagnosis, an oncologist can conduct a careful evaluation to make recommendations on the best course of action to take with treatment and management of the cancer. These may include the use of targeted therapy if it appears appropriate and useful for a patient's case.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Read more
WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.