Course Content
Introduction to Cancer
Definition of cancer History and prevalence Types of cancer
Causes of Cancer
• Genetic factors • Environmental factors • Lifestyle factors
Signs and Symptoms of Cancer
• Common symptoms across different types of cancer • Early warning signs • Recognizing symptoms for prompt diagnosis
Cancer Prevention Strategies
• Healthy lifestyle habits • Screening and early detection methods • Environmental and occupational precautions
Cancer Screening and Diagnosis
• Screening guidelines • Diagnostic tests and procedures • Importance of early detection
Cancer Treatment Options
• Surgery • Chemotherapy • Radiation therapy • Immunotherapy • Targeted therapy • Hormonal therapy
Supportive Care for Cancer Patients
• Palliative care • Managing treatment side effects • Emotional and psychological support
Caring for Loved Ones with Cancer
• Understanding caregiver roles and responsibilities • Communication strategies • Self-care for caregivers
Survivorship and Follow-Up Care
• Life after cancer treatment • Long-term effects and survivorship care plans • Follow-up care guidelines
Community Resources and Support
• Support groups • Financial assistance programs • Accessing healthcare resources
Understanding Cancer: Causes, Signs, Prevention, and Treatment
About Lesson


Targeted therapy represents a precision medicine approach to cancer treatment that aims to selectively target specific molecules or pathways involved in tumor growth and survival. Unlike traditional chemotherapy, which affects rapidly dividing cells indiscriminately, targeted therapy exploits vulnerabilities in cancer cells while sparing normal tissues. This session provides an overview of targeted therapy in cancer management.

Key Concepts:

  1. Molecular Targets:

    • Targeted therapy drugs are designed to interact with specific molecules or pathways that play key roles in cancer development, progression, and metastasis. These targets may include mutated or overexpressed proteins, growth factor receptors, signaling pathways, or angiogenic factors.
  2. Mechanisms of Action:

    • Targeted therapy drugs exert their effects through various mechanisms, including inhibition of protein kinases, blockade of growth factor receptors, interference with signaling pathways, modulation of angiogenesis, or induction of apoptosis in cancer cells.
  3. Personalized Treatment:

    • Targeted therapy allows for personalized treatment approaches based on the molecular characteristics of individual tumors, enabling oncologists to select the most appropriate therapy for each patient based on tumor biomarkers, such as genetic mutations or protein expression profiles.

Types of Targeted Therapy:

  1. Small Molecule Inhibitors:

    • Small molecule inhibitors are orally available drugs that penetrate cell membranes and target intracellular signaling pathways or enzymes involved in cancer growth and survival. Examples include tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), proteasome inhibitors, and mTOR inhibitors.
  2. Monoclonal Antibodies:

    • Monoclonal antibodies are large protein molecules that bind to specific cell surface receptors or antigens expressed on cancer cells, leading to antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC), immune system activation, or inhibition of signaling pathways. Examples include HER2-targeted antibodies and immune checkpoint inhibitors.

Indications for Targeted Therapy:

  1. Driver Mutations:

    • Targeted therapy is particularly effective in cancers driven by specific genetic mutations or alterations, such as EGFR mutations in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), BRAF mutations in melanoma, or HER2 amplification in breast cancer.
  2. Resistance Mechanisms:

    • Targeted therapy may be used to overcome resistance mechanisms that develop following initial treatment with other modalities, such as chemotherapy or immunotherapy, by targeting alternative pathways or bypass mechanisms.
  3. Combination Therapy:

    • Targeted therapy drugs may be combined with other targeted agents, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or immunotherapy to enhance treatment efficacy, overcome resistance, or prevent tumor recurrence.

Side Effects and Management:

  1. On-Target Toxicities:

    • Targeted therapy drugs can cause side effects related to their mechanism of action, such as skin rash, diarrhea, hypertension, cardiac toxicity, or hepatotoxicity. These side effects are often manageable with dose adjustments, supportive care, or symptomatic treatment.
  2. Off-Target Effects:

    • Off-target effects may occur due to unintended interactions with normal tissues or pathways, leading to toxicity or adverse events. Close monitoring and prompt intervention are essential to mitigate off-target effects and optimize treatment outcomes.

Case Study:

Alex, a 50-year-old man, was diagnosed with metastatic colorectal cancer harboring a KRAS mutation. He received combination therapy with a small molecule inhibitor targeting the EGFR pathway and chemotherapy. Despite experiencing skin rash and diarrhea as side effects, Alex achieved a partial response with significant tumor shrinkage and improved quality of life.


  1. What is the primary mechanism of action of targeted therapy drugs?

    • A. Inhibition of DNA synthesis in cancer cells
    • B. Activation of immune cells to attack cancer cells
    • C. Selective targeting of specific molecules or pathways in cancer cells
    • D. Stimulation of angiogenesis to promote tumor growth

    Answer: C. Selective targeting of specific molecules or pathways in cancer cells

  2. Which type of targeted therapy drugs are orally available and penetrate cell membranes to inhibit intracellular signaling pathways?

    • A. Monoclonal antibodies
    • B. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs)
    • C. Proteasome inhibitors
    • D. mTOR inhibitors

    Answer: B. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs)

Online Resources:

These resources offer comprehensive information on targeted therapy, including mechanisms of action, indications, side effects, and ongoing research efforts, helping patients and healthcare providers understand and navigate this innovative treatment approach in cancer care.

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