Systemic Treatment


Chemotherapy

What is Chemotherapy and how does it work

Chemotherapy treatment uses drugs to weaken and destroy cancer cells in the body. Chemotherapy, often shortened to just "chemo," is a systemic therapy, which means it affects the whole body by going through the bloodstream.

Cancer cells tend to grow and divide very quickly with no order or control. Because they are growing so fast, sometimes cancer cells break away from the original tumor and travel to other places in the body. Chemotherapy weakens and destroys cancer cells at the original tumor site and throughout the body. 2

Chemotherapy works well when it is used in combination of several chemotherapy drugs. It is usually administered orally or given intravenously to patients.

When treating early-stage cancer, it is fairly common for chemotherapy to be given after surgery, as soon as you recover. Doctors call this "adjuvant" chemotherapy because it's given in addition to surgery, which is considered the primary treatment.

In some cases, chemotherapy is given before surgery to shrink the cancer so that less tissue has to be removed. When chemotherapy is given before surgery, it's called "neoadjuvant" chemotherapy.

In many cases, chemotherapy medicines are given in combination, which means you get two or three different medicines at the same time. These combinations are known as chemotherapy regimens.

Chemotherapy is used to treat many cancers. More than 100 chemotherapy drugs are used today — either alone or in combination with other drugs or treatments. As research continues, more drugs are expected to become available. These drugs vary widely in their chemical composition, how they are taken, their usefulness in treating specific forms of cancer, and their side effects. 3

[2 Source: Breast Cancer Organisation (US)]
[3 Source: American Cancer Society]


Targeted Therapy

What is Targeted Therapy and how does it work

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

Targeted cancer therapies interfere with cancer cell division (proliferation) and spread in different ways. By blocking signals that tell cancer cells to grow and divide uncontrollably, targeted cancer therapies can help stop cancer progression and may induce cancer cell death.

Advantages of Targeted Therapy

Targeted cancer therapies give doctors a better way to tailor cancer treatment, especially when a target is present in some but not all tumors of a particular type, as is the case for HER-2. Eventually, treatments may be individualized based on the unique set of molecular targets produced by the patient’s tumor. Targeted cancer therapies also hold the promise of being more selective for cancer cells than normal cells, thus harming fewer normal cells, reducing side effects, and improving quality of life.

[Source: National Cancer Institute, US]