About Targeted Therapy

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.


NEW! May 2021: Save Your Skin Foundation proudly partnered with the Melanoma Network of Canada to create a patient guide on navigating adjuvant therapies for melanoma. Download your copy HERE


For more information, click here:

BRAF in Melanoma: Answering Questions, Addressing Misconceptions


Additional Sources:

AIM at Melanoma – Targeted Therapy

NCCN Guidelines for Patients – Melanoma

In collaboration with AIM at Melanoma we develop patient and health care provider resources relevant to the Canadian population:  www.aimwithimmunotherapy.org/canada  


Decision-Support Tool for Stage III Melanoma

Newly customized for the Canadian audience, this pamphlet is a document to provide/discuss with patients that helps guide their decision making regarding next steps for stage III melanoma. Reviewed by Save Your Skin Foundation, updated February 2021:

Options for Stage III Melanoma ~ Making the Decision That’s Right for You

Want to learn how to use the Stage III Decision-Support Tool? Peruse frequently asked questions about Stage III melanoma and learn how to use the support tool to guide your decision making. Also developed in collaboration with Save Your Skin Foundation, updated February 2021:

Options for Stage III Melanoma: Making the Decision That’s Right for You, Companion Piece

Melanoma Treatment FAQs – Do’s, Don’ts, and Managing Side Effects

Recorded August 5, 2020 

Hear the latest updates on current immunotherapy and targeted therapy treatments for melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers in Canada. Dr. Smylie and Dr. Iafolla hold a panel discussion on recommended dietary and lifestyle habits while on treatment, as well as managing toxicities from fever and pneumonitis to dermatologic complications from IO and Targeted Therapies.

Post-ESMO Webinar with Dr. Reinhard Dummer

Recorded October 16, 2020

Presented by Professor Reinhard Dummer, Vice-Chairman of the Department of Dermatology in the University Hospital of Zürich, this webinar reviews late breaking news, key takeaways, clinical data and other updates presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Virtual Congress Annual Meeting September-October 2020.

An up-to-date list of available treatments can be found on the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH) website’s Provincial drug formulary database, which can be accessed hereFor more information about immunotherapy and BRAF inhibitor therapies and whether they might be an option for you, ask your Doctor.

Listed above are a few sources of information and support you might find useful. These groups are not connected to Save Your Skin Foundation. We are providing the links as useful sources of information but do not monitor content for accuracy and quality.


NOTE: The information on the Save Your Skin website is not intended to replace the medical advice of a doctor or healthcare provider. While we make every effort to ensure that the information on our site is as current as possible, please note that information and statistics are subject to change as new research and studies are published. 

Making awareness and education available is crucial. Since 2006, the Foundation has worked to raise awareness of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers focusing on education, prevention and the need for improved patient care.
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