Targeted therapy

Targeted therapies are newer drugs that try to stop the cancer growing. They are called targeted because they are aimed at parts of the cancer cells and try not to affect any other part of your body. 

Only some people with certain types of cancer can have targeted therapies. They won’t work in everybody. Sometimes targeted therapies work better in combination with other treatments. Targeted therapy can be given in different ways including as injections into your veins or skin or as tablets that you swallow. Commonly used targeted therapies include treatments for some types of breast cancer, such as trastuzumab and treatments for some types of lung cancers, such as tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs).

Talk to your specialist doctor about whether targeted therapies could be for you.

Yarn with your doctor, nurse or Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander health worker about the best options for you.

What questions should I ask?

If doctors think they might help, here are some questions to ask:

  • Why do you want me to have targeted therapy?
  • How does it work?
  • What might happen to my cancer?
  • What could go wrong?
  • What happens if it doesn’t work?
  • What side-effects might I get?
  • Are there traditional healing or bush medicines available?

You can watch a video called What is drug therapy?

Understanding treatment options

Targeted therapies are drugs or other substances that block the growth and spread of cancer by interfering with specific molecules.