A targeted therapy is a drug designed to attack a certain molecular agent or pathway involved in the development of cancer.
For example, the drug trastuzumab (Herceptin) targets a certain gene's protein called HER2 that is found on the surface of some cancer cells.
These therapies only work on cancers that have the specific markers they were designed to target. So, many people cannot use these drugs.
Unlike chemotherapy drugs, targeted therapies kill cancer cells with little harm to healthy cells.
Targeted therapies offer promise for current and future breast cancer treatments.
To learn more about a specific targeted therapy drug, visit the National Institutes of Health’s Medline Plus website.
Learn about trastuzumab and other targeted therapies in the treatment of early and locally advanced breast cancer.
Learn about trastuzumab and pertuzumab as part of neoadjuvant treatment.
Learn about trastuzumab, lapatinib and other targeted therapies in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer.
Although the exact treatment for breast cancer varies from person to person, guidelines help ensure high quality care. These guidelines are based on the latest research and agreement among experts.
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) are two respected organizations that regularly review and update their guidelines.
In addition, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has treatment overviews.
Talk with your health care providers about which treatment guidelines they use. Since there’s often a lag time between the latest research and guideline updates, most providers prefer to base their treatment on the latest research.
SUSAN G. KOMEN® SUPPORT RESOURCES
Targeted therapy drug costs can quickly become a financial burden for you and your family.
Medicare and many insurance providers offer prescription drug plans. One may already be included in your policy or you may be able to buy an extra plan for prescriptions.
You may also qualify for programs that help with drug costs or offer low-cost or free prescriptions.
Learn more about insurance plans and prescription drug assistance programs.
Susan G. Komen®'s position on fairness in breast cancer medication coverage
Medications taken by mouth (oral), such as lapatinib, are usually covered under a health insurance plan’s prescription drug benefit rather than the plan’s medical benefit.
As a result, people often find themselves facing high out-of-pocket costs when filling their prescriptions (sometimes costing thousands of dollars per month).
High prescription drug costs are a barrier to care. They can prevent people from getting the medications prescribed by their health care provider.
Komen supports state and federal efforts to require insurers to provide the same or better coverage for oral breast cancer medications as they do for IV medications, such as trastuzumab and pertuzumab. This would help ensure patients have access to affordable, appropriate treatment.
Targeted Therapy Video
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Breast Cancer 101 - Targeted Therapy
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Facts for Life: Targeted Therapies
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