If you or a loved one have recently been diagnosed with skin cancer, you probably already know that cancer treatment has come a long way in recent decades—but you may be unaware that 21st-century cancer treatments are as unique as the individuals they're intended to help. That's the promise of targeted therapies, a rapidly evolving field in the treatment of skin cancer. Unlike conventional treatments, targeted therapies aim to affect cancer cells at the molecular level, blocking the growth and spread of cancer by interfering with specific molecules needed for tumor growth. Here's what you need to know:
Understanding the Mechanism
How does targeted therapy work? These treatments are developed from research into the genetic changes that cause skin cancer cells to grow. The therapies are then designed to interrupt these changes or take advantage of them to combat the cancer. For instance, some skin cancers, such as advanced melanoma, have changes in the BRAF gene. Targeted drugs, known as BRAF inhibitors, can block the action of this mutated gene, slowing or even stopping the growth of the cancer.
The Benefits of Targeted Therapies
The specificity of targeted therapies can lead to better outcomes with fewer side effects. Because these drugs specifically focus on cancer cells, they tend to harm fewer normal cells compared to traditional treatments like chemotherapy. This results in a different set of side effects, often less severe than those of conventional treatments.
It's important to remember, though, that everyone's experience with targeted therapies is unique. Some people may have very few side effects, while others may experience more. Understanding this can help set your expectations and encourage you to communicate openly with your healthcare team about any concerns.
What to Expect During Treatment
Your experience with targeted therapy will depend on many factors, including the type of drug, how it's given, and how your body responds to it. Some targeted therapies are taken orally, while others are given as an injection or infusion.
While undergoing targeted therapy, you'll have regular checkups with your healthcare provider to monitor your progress and manage any side effects. This is a crucial part of your treatment plan, ensuring the therapy is working as intended and that your quality of life is maintained.
Looking to the Future
The field of targeted therapies is continually evolving, with ongoing research to discover new targets and develop new drugs. Over time, these therapies are expected to become even more effective and precise, providing hope for many individuals diagnosed with skin cancer.
Contact a local doctor to learn more about skin cancer treatment.Share