Targeting cancer cells to slow or stop them from growing.
How targeted therapy works
Targeted therapy is a type of treatment that prevents cancer cells from growing, dividing and spreading. It can be used to treat many cancers and is often used along with other therapies.
This treatment differs from chemotherapy in that the drugs stop or slow the growth of tumors by specifically blocking certain proteins in cancer cells, which reduces damage to most other healthy cells.
There are two main types of targeted therapies for cancer:
Small-molecule drugs: Are pills that you take, and the medicines go inside cancer cells to block the growth that occurs within the cells.
Monoclonal antibodies: Are drugs given through an intravenous (IV) needle and block growth on the outside of the cancer cells or in areas around them.
Meet our providers
Our cancer specialists work closely together to deliver the latest treatments based on your needs. Learn more about the medical oncology team.
For ovarian or uterine cancer care, learn more about the gynecologic oncology team.
What to expect
In most cases, you have to be tested to see whether targeted therapy is right for treating your cancer. Tumors are usually tested with a biopsy, a procedure where a surgeon removes a piece of the tumor and a pathologist looks at it under a microscope.
How often and how long you undergo targeted therapy depends on your type of cancer, how advanced it is (the stage), your health and how your body reacts to treatment. You may receive treatment daily, weekly or monthly. Sometimes, a targeted therapy is given in cycles, which gives your body a chance to recover.
Targeted therapy may be given in combination with other treatments like surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Your doctor will work with you to determine what plan will work best for you.
What happens next
Targeted therapy has side effects but, because the drugs target cancer cells, the side effects are not usually as severe as those from chemotherapy. Most of these side effects go away or get better after treatment ends.
During your targeted therapy, you see your Legacy Cancer Institute doctor regularly. You also have blood tests and imaging tests to see how the treatment is working.
Our cancer experts work together with a common goal: delivering the right care for you.
A range of specialists collaborate regularly in meetings called tumor boards to discuss the best plan for your care. Your treatment plan is made just for you, depending on your general health, your age, your particular cancer and its growth.
You are not alone. Legacy offers support throughout your cancer journey, as well as care for your emotional, social and spiritual needs.