As a full service cancer center, Suncoast Cancer Institute offers targeted cancer therapies. Targeted therapies may be suggested in addition to other cancer treatment methods, such as chemotherapy, or as a stand alone treatment. In certain patients, targeted cancer therapies may be less harmful to normal cells and more effective than other types of treatment.

What is Targeted Cancer Therapies?

Cancer forms when a mutation occurs in a specific gene of an otherwise healthy cell. Your genes tell your cells how to make proteins that keep the cell healthy and functioning. However, when a mutation occurs, the protein changes, which can cause the cells to live longer than normal or divide abnormally. This rapid cell growth often results in a cancerous tumor.

Targeted therapies are drugs that block the growth and spread of cancer by interfering with specific molecules involved in tumor growth and progression. These drugs work by targeting genes and proteins that the cancer relies on for growth. When effective, targeted therapy drugs can:

  • Kill cancer cells
  • Block or destroy signals that tell cancer cells to grow and divide
  • Keep cells from living longer than normal

How are Targeted Cancer Therapies Administered?

Depending upon the type of drug prescribed, targeted cancer therapies can be administered as a pill or capsule that is taken orally, or as an IV. In pill form, targeted therapies can be taken at home. If the drug is being administered via IV, you will receive treatment in the Suncoast Cancer Institute infusion room, which offers privacy curtains, if desired.

Treatment may be given every day, every week, or every month. In certain cases, you may receive a cycle of drugs followed by a rest period. Your oncologist will determine the frequency of your targeted therapy treatment.

What are the Side Effects of Targeted Therapies?

As with any drug, side effects may occur. However, targeted cancer therapies work to attack cancer cells, sparing healthy cells. For this reason, side effects are less likely. Possible side effects include:

  • Skin changes
    • Rash
    • Sensitivity to light
    • Itching
  • Painful, red cuticles around nails
  • Changes in hair texture or growth
  • Hand-foot syndrome
  • Changes associated with eyes
    • Burning
    • Dryness
    • Red, tender eyelids

If you experience any of the side effects above, please contact us immediately. Our patients comfort is a priority, so if side effects occur, we want to know. Your oncology team will work to alleviate any side effects that you may be experiencing.

Additionally, at each appointment you will visit with your oncologist to discuss your progress, identify side effects, and make adjustments to your treatment as needed. Since you will see your oncologist as each appointment, you never have to worry about a side effect being overlooked.

Is Targeted Therapy Right For Me?

In order to determine if targeted therapy is a treatment option for you, your oncologist will review your case and outline the most effective treatment options. Not all tumors have the same target, therefore targeted therapies may not be a viable treatment option in all cases. Your oncologist may order additional tests to learn more about the genes and proteins that make up your tumor in order to determine the most successful course of treatment.

Learn More About Targeted Cancer Therapies at Suncoast Cancer Institute

If you have been diagnosed with cancer, contact Suncoast Cancer Institute today to learn more about our personalized approach to care. Our practice revolves around the patient, which is apparent from the moment you step foot in the door. Learn more about our expert oncologists and schedule an appointment today.

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