What is Targeted Therapy?
There are several treatments for melanoma skin cancer, including targeted therapy and immunotherapy.
Targeted therapy drugs are designed to specifically target cancer cells. For melanoma, these drugs target the activity of a specific or unique feature of melanoma cancer cells. Genes are the instructions in cells for making new cells and controlling how cells behave. An abnormal change in these instructions – called a gene mutation – can cause cells to grow and divide out of control. Targeted therapy drugs are used as systemic therapy. They are given as a pill that is swallowed.
To determine if targeted therapy is an option for a patient, their tumor must be tested for a marker called BRAF. If the BRAF test shows that the tumor has the BRAF mutation, they are eligible for targeted therapy. But if the tumor does not have the BRAF mutation, they are not eligible for targeted therapy. About half of all melanoma patients have a mutated form of code for the BRAF protein in their tumors. This is called having a BRAF mutation.
For those patients with a BRAF mutation, there is the option to use a combination of oral (by mouth) drugs called dabrafenib and trametinib. When given together, these drugs can help block these proteins and stop the melanoma from growing. These drugs work only for people who have the BRAF mutation.
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