Cancer therapies are called by its various names: “molecularly targeted drugs” or “molecularly targeted therapies”. These are drugs or other substances whose primary function is to arrest the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body. These drugs interfere with specific molecules responsible for the growth and progression of the tumor.
Advantages of cancer therapies
Advocates of cancer therapies believe that this type of treatment is more effective than any other kind of cancer treatments because they focus on molecular and cellular changes that are specific to cancer only. Cancer therapies are also less harmful to normal cells unlike chemotherapy which does not discriminate normal from cancer cells.
In the United States, several cancer therapies have been already approved to treat certain types of cancer. However, further studies are being conducted to ascertain its effectiveness when used alone or combined with other targeted therapies or cancer treatments. They are also used in clinical trials.
How cancer therapies work?
Cancer therapies work by blocking signals that cause cancer cells to multiply and spread in many different ways. In other words, cancer therapies disrupt cell division. They also stimulate the immune system giving it the capacity to recognize and destroy cancer cells. During the process of apoptosis, a cancer cell is induced to death, thereby stopping its growth. However, before getting into targeted cancer therapies, what is required is the identification of targets that are believed to play a key role in cancer cell growth and survival.
At the moment, researchers are looking for ways to enhance targeted cancer therapies. This includes exploring the possibility of using different targeted therapies in combination to target more pathways of abnormal cell growth. This may also prove beneficial since some cells appear to be resistant to certain cancer therapies. Combining several therapies along with chemotherapy and radiation may someday be possible.
Another aspect researchers are looking at is identifying it when is the right time to administer the treatment and which cancers are best treated with targeted cancer therapies. Identifying the precise cancer patient-recipient of these therapies will also help doctors in giving these treatments to those who will need it most. Presently, this treatment method is being administered to those with cancer on its advanced stage. How to effectively manage its side effects are likewise being studied.
Primarily pursued in providing patients with a better treatment alternative targeted cancer therapies constitute a big chunk of today’s cancer research. Researchers are confident and hopeful that with the advent of these therapies, patients have a better choice in treating cancer. In fact, as early as now, doctors are toying at the idea of a customized treatment for each patient that will be dependent on the molecular targets made by the patient’s tumor.
If proven successful, targeted cancer therapies will result to fewer side effects because only little damage is done to the normal cells or none at all. This will result to a better quality of life. More importantly, these little wonders will change cancer-stricken patients’ outlook of this deadly disease.