Targeted therapies are drugs used to treat certain types of cancer cells. Targeted therapies are sometimes called biological therapies.
The most common targeted therapies available in Australia target HER2-positive breast cancer. They are:
- trastuzumab (Herceptin®)
- lapatinib (Tykerb®) (currently only used for metastatic breast cancer).
These drugs work by stopping HER2-positive cancer cells from growing and dividing. They are not effective for women with HER2-negative breast cancer.
Another targeted therapy sometimes used in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer is bevacizumab (Avastin®). It works by blocking the action of a growth factor called VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor).
The number of available targeted therapies are likely to increase with time as we get more evidence about other treatments.