Targeted cancer therapy

Unlike chemotherapy, which affects all cells in the body, targeted therapies are drugs or other substances that block the growth and spread of cancer by interfering with specific molecules involved in tumor growth. They attack cancer cells without harming normal cells and usually deliver fewer side effects.

The drugs are most often given along with chemotherapy, although some may also be used by themselves, if chemotherapy is no longer working. The goal of targeted therapy is to prevent the cancer from growing. Another goal is to help the chemotherapy get inside the tumor. If it does, the drug has a better chance to work well.

Like chemotherapy, these medicines work throughout the body. Because they mainly target cancer cells, the side effects are often different (and less severe) than those from chemotherapy drugs.

It may also be used to treat cancer that comes back after treatment. As with chemotherapy, a medical oncologist treats a patient with targeted therapy. Most of these drugs are given intravenously through a small needle that has been put into a vein and is dripped slowly into the vein over several hours. 

(855) 858-8550

Make an appointment

Call Northwell Health Cancer Institute to make an appointment with one of our experts.

Email the Cancer Institute

Find a Cancer Institute doctor.

Cancer Institute

Northwell Health Cancer Institute offers cutting-edge treatments and cancer care.

Breast Cancer Update 2015: Targeted Therapies

Listen to Dr. Kit Cheng, North Shore-LIJ Cancer Institute, discuss targeted therapies for breast cancer, how these therapies are currently being used and a glimpse into therapies being developed in clinical trials.