Targeted Therapy Drugs for Lung Cancer

DrugsOne of the developments in lung cancer medicine is introduction of targeted treatments. Targeted therapy drugs work by targeting the cancer cells. They work by stopping cancer cells from dividing and growing them. These drugs also stop cancer from growing blood cells. They also encourage the immune system by attacking the cancer cells.

Types of Targeted Drugs

Erlotinib, Gefitinib and Afatinib

They work by blocking proteins on cancer cells. These drugs block a specific kind of receptor on cell surface called Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR). EGFR acts as doorways by allowing substances in that they can encourage cancer cells to grow and spread to other areas of the lung.

Crizotinib, Ceritinib and Alectinib

These are tyrosine kinase inhibitors and they work by blocking an enzyme called anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK). They have shown improvement in people with advanced non-small cell lung cancer who have ALK gene mutation. They work to block ALK and stop the growth of the tumor.


Bevacizumab or Avastin is also used for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer. Tumors also need a blood supply to survive and one way for growing blood vessels is via presence of VEGF. This drug works by targeting vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and is often used with chemo for a time. During chemotherapy, Bevacizumab has shown to improve survival in patients with certain types of non-small cell lung cancer.

Common Side Effects

The side effects of targeted therapy drugs depend on the drug you intake, whether the drug is consumed alone or with other drugs and the dosage of drugs. Though side effects differ from person to person, but the common side effects include:

Low white blood cell counts

  • Tiredness
  • Headaches
  • Mouth sores
  • Loss of appetite
  • High blood pressure

One may have one of the targeted cancer drugs alone or in combination with chemotherapy.

The information shared in this blog is for educational purposes only.

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