Targeted Cancer Cell Therapy


If you have cancer, your doctor may recommend targeted cancer cell therapy.

The cells in the body grow and divide as part of the normal cell cycle.

The cell’s nucleus controls this process.

Inside each nucleus, genetic material, called DNA, contains the instructions for directing this process.

Sometimes the cell’s DNA becomes damaged.

Normally, the DNA responds by either repairing itself, or instructing the cell to die.

In cancer, however, the parts of the cell’s DNA that direct cell division become damaged.

When these sections are damaged, the DNA is unable to repair itself, or cause the cell to die.

Instead, the unrepaired DNA causes the cell to grow and divide uncontrollably into more damaged cells, called cancer cells.

A tumor forms as the cancer cells multiply and displace the normal cells.

As the tumor enlarges, it develops its own blood supply.

Since cancer cells do not stick together as well as normal cells,

they may break away and enter a nearby blood vessel.

Cancer cells in blood vessels may travel to other areas of your body and form additional tumors.

This is called metastasis.

Additional tumors may form in areas such as the lungs, liver, and bones.

Another way cancer may spread to other areas of your body is through your lymphatic system.

Cancer cells may enter lymph vessels near the tumor, then travel to small glands called lymph nodes.

If the cells pass through the nodes,

they may continue to travel through your lymphatic system, and form additional tumors.

If you have cancer, your doctor may recommend targeted cancer cell therapy.

Targeted cancer therapy attacks features common to cancer cells, while limiting damage to your normal cells.

There are two types of targeted therapy. One type includes small molecule drugs that work inside your cancer cells.

The other type includes drugs called monoclonal antibodies that work on the outside of your cancer cells.

These therapies work in one of four ways.

Some block signals that cancer cells use to make new cancer cells.

Others deliver toxic substances that kill or damage cancer cells.

Some therapies stimulate cells in your immune system to destroy cancer cells.

Others block the growth of new blood vessels around cancer cells,

which starves the cells of the nutrients they need to grow.

Depending on which drug your doctor recommends, you may receive an oral medication, an injection, or an intravenous infusion.

If you receive an intravenous infusion, a needle will be inserted into a vein in your hand or arm.

A bag containing the medication will be hung nearby, with a tube connecting the bag to the needle.

The medication will drip slowly through the tube into the needle, then pass into your bloodstream.

When you have received a dose of the drug, the needle will be removed.

After you receive targeted therapy, your doctor will monitor your vital signs to be sure you do not have any side effects.

You will go home the same day.