Questions About Cancer? 1-800-4-CANCER

Targeted Therapies for Breast Cancer Tutorial

Introduction

In This Section:

Targeted Therapies Overview

Targeted therapies are transforming the way people treat cancer. These carefully designed drugs have already begun to make personalized medicine a reality and will continue to help doctors tailor cancer treatment based on the characteristics of each individual's cancer. It is important that health care professionals become familiar with the concept of targeted therapies so they can communicate with their patients about these new approaches and help patients make better-informed treatment decisions.

Image of doctor talking to patient.

Breast Cancer Tutorial—Objectives

Image of young female patient in a hospital bed with healthcare providers surrounding her.

This tutorial focuses on targeted therapies that have been and are being developed to treat breast cancer, including small molecules and monoclonal antibodies. By completing this tutorial, you will learn the answers to the following questions:

  • What pathways in breast cancer cells are being targeted?
  • What agents are being developed to target these pathways?
  • Which targeted therapies are currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating breast cancer?
  • How can I find clinical trials that are evaluating targeted therapies for breast cancer?

Breast Cancer Treatment Background

Treatment for breast cancer depends on the stage of the disease, but often includes surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Some targeted therapies, including antihormone therapies and Herceptin® (trastuzumab), have also become part of standard treatment for breast cancer when a patient's tumor expresses the targets of these drugs. Preclinical experiments and clinical trials are currently underway to evaluate additional targeted therapies and find out how best to use these drugs in combination with each other and standard therapies.