Targeted therapy is a type of cancer treatment that targets a patient’s own specific type and stage of cancer. Targeted therapies concentrate on the difference between healthy cells and cancer cells, and interfere with the specific molecules in the cancer cells that tell them to grow and spread.

By attacking these molecules and the specific changes in the cancer cell, targeted therapies can block the abnormal progression of those cells causing the cancer.

How is targeted therapy different to chemotherapy?

The aim of targeted therapy is to only target and attack cancer cells. Chemotherapy kills all fast-growing cells, which makes it an effective form of treatment for fighting rapidly-dividing cancer cells, but it means the body’s fast-growing healthy cells are also killed or damaged.

Not all cancers respond to targeted therapies, and some of these therapies are only available in clinical trials. Targeted therapy may be used instead of, or in combination with, other treatments such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy or surgery.

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