Drugs that prevent the growth and spread of cancer by altering the way certain molecules and cells interact are called targeted cancer therapies. Targeted cancer therapies inhibit the growth of tumors and slows the progression of the disease throughout the body. They also boost the body’s immune system and cause cancer cells to die off. They arrest the development of blood vessels in tumors and prevent their growth. FDA approved targeted cancer therapies are used to treat specific types of cancers.
One of the first types of targeted cancer therapies was a hormone receptor complex that bonded with a cell’s estrogen receptors. By binding these receptors, the growth of cancer cells and tumors was prohibited. Selective estrogen receptor modulators have proven to be an effective treatment for breast cancer and other similar types of cancers. Aromatase inhibitors prevent the production of estrogen and reduce its levels within the body. Breast cancer cells and tumors rely on estrogen to grow and spread.
Other targeted cancer therapies work by interrupting bodily processes at a cellular level. The therapies prevent growth factor receptors and enzymes from reproducing mutated cancer cells. Leukemia and other types of cancers involving the blood and digestive systems are affected by these types of therapies.
While some targeted cancer therapies bind with receptors and prevent them from creating new cells, others work by changing the cell’s overall structure causing it to die. Therapies that work using this principle alter the cell’s DNA and cause changes that prohibit the cell from reproducing.
Therapies that target specific molecules may act on the environment surrounding the specific cells. By reducing blood flow and the amount of nutrients the cells receive, its growth is restricted and tumors are not allowed to develop. This type of therapy can also bolster the immune system and help it to identify and destroy mutated cells that can lead to cancer and tumor growth. Some therapies work on enzymes and hormones, while others work on proteins and other substances within the body that can cause radical changes leading to tumor and cancerous growths.
Cancer vaccines such as the one for the human papiloma virus are thought to be targeted cancer therapies because they work on a very select group of cells within the body. Targeted cancer therapies work in a variety of ways but they all have one specific goal in mind. They work on one distinct group of cells at a time. When used in conjunction with a healthy diet and other positive lifestyle changes, targeted cancer therapies offer a better chance of surviving various types of the disease.