Immunotherapy and targeted therapy are types of cancer treatment.
Immunotherapy is a type of biological therapy that helps your body fight cancer by stimulating the immune system or helping it identify “hidden” cancer cells. It uses natural substances made in the body or artificial substances that act like your body’s natural ones.
Targeted therapy uses drugs that target genes and proteins associated with cancer to stop the progression of the disease.
There is some overlap between these two types of cancer treatments since some targeted therapies work through the immune system.
Why We Use Immunotherapy & Targeted Therapy at Dignity Health
For targeted therapies to work, you must have the cancer gene mutation or protein that needs to be targeted. Your oncologist may need to run a test to make sure your tumor has the specific target. This type of cancer treatment may be a good option if you have certain breast, colon, and lung cancers, as well as melanomas that contain the BRAF gene mutation.
The two main types of targeted therapies are:
- Small-molecule drugs: They work by stopping the way cancer cells grow out of control. These drugs include hormone therapies, which impair the growth of hormone-sensitive tumors; angiogenesis inhibitors, which stop blood vessels from forming and “feeding” a tumor; and apoptosis inducers, which cause cancer cells to kill themselves.
- Monoclonal antibodies: These are protein-based drugs that target certain molecules on the surface of cancer cells to destroy them. Some of them target specific immune system cells to help them fight cancer cells, while others release a toxic substance into the targeted cancer cells, which kills them.
Immunotherapy uses the power of the immune system to boost your body’s natural ability to fight the effects of cancer. The most common types of immunotherapies include:
- Monoclonal antibodies
- Adoptive cell transfer
- Cancer vaccines
What to Expect with Your Cancer Therapy & Recovery
The type of cancer, its stage, and the type of therapy will determine where and how you will receive the treatment. Monoclonal antibodies are usually given through an IV. Small-molecule drugs are often taken in pill form.
If targeted therapy or immunotherapy is not an option for your type and stage of cancer, ask your doctor if you are a candidate for a clinical trial at Dignity Health.
Your recovery plan after cancer therapy will depend on the type of therapy, dose, your side effects, and your overall health. Your oncologist will determine your follow-up plan, depending on how well the therapy is working and whether you will need additional treatments.
St. Joseph's Cancer Institute offers advanced care through immunotherapy and targeted therapy in Stockton and the surrounding areas.