Targeted Therapy

Leading-edge treatment made local

Targeted therapies are designed to treat only the cancer cells and to minimize damage to normal, healthy cells. Cancer treatments that “target” cancer cells may offer the advantage of reduced treatment-related side effects and improved outcomes. Virginia Cancer Institute is proud to bring the Richmond region these leading-edge options for cancer treatment that help minimize the side effects of treatment and promote living life to its fullest with cancer.

Advances in science and technology have led to the development of several different types of targeted therapies. Each of these new treatments targets cancer through different mechanisms.

Antiangiogenic drugs starve the cancer cells of blood that they need to survive and grow.

Monoclonal antibodies can locate cancer cells in the body by recognizing proteins called receptors that are more abundant in cancer cells than in normal cells. The monoclonal antibody may then cause its anticancer effect by blocking the receptor from binding with substances in the blood.

Radioactive monoclonal antibodies are composed of a radioactive substance attached to a monoclonal antibody. The antibody acts as a homing device, and the radioactive substance kills the targeted cell.

Tyrosine kinase inhibitors interact with the enzyme (protein) tyrosine, which is active in a complex signaling system that is used by some cancers as a survival mechanism to allow them to grow out of control. The drug Gleevec® (imatinib mesylate) is an example of this type of targeted therapy that inhibits a mutated form of tyrosine kinase and stops the abundant growth of cancerous white blood cells in chronic myeloid leukemia.

Vaccines are made from a patient’s own cancer cells and stimulate the body to recognize and attack cancer cells.