Targeted therapy for esophageal cancer
Targeted therapy is sometimes used to treat esophageal cancer. It uses drugs to target specific molecules (such as proteins) on cancer cells or inside them. These molecules help send signals that tell cells to grow or divide. By targeting these molecules, the drugs stop the growth and spread of cancer cells and limit harm to normal cells. Targeted therapy may also be called molecular targeted therapy.
Your healthcare team will consider your personal needs to plan the drugs, doses and schedules of targeted therapy. You may also receive other treatments.
Targeted therapy drugs used for esophageal cancer @(Model.HeadingTag)>
Trastuzumab is used with chemotherapy drugs to treat HER2-positive tumours. The most common combinations are:
- trastuzumab, cisplatin and fluorouracil
- trastuzumab, cisplatin and capecitabine (Xeloda)
If the cancer responds to treatment, trastuzumab may be given by itself after chemotherapy is finished. It is given until there are signs that the cancer has returned. This is called maintenance therapy.
Trastuzumab is not used to treat tumours that are HER2-negative. Research shows that it is not an effective treatment for these tumours.
Ramucirumab (Cyramza) is a
Ramucirumab is given in combination with paclitaxel.
Side effects @(Model.HeadingTag)>
Side effects can happen with any type of treatment for esophageal cancer, but everyone's experience is different. Some people have many side effects. Other people have few or none at all.
Targeted therapy attacks cancer cells but doesn't usually damage healthy cells, so there are usually fewer and less severe side effects than with chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can damage healthy cells along with cancer cells.
If you develop side effects, they can happen any time during, immediately after or a few days or weeks after targeted therapy. Sometimes late side effects develop months or years after targeted therapy. Most side effects go away on their own or can be treated, but some side effects may last a long time or become permanent.
Side effects of targeted therapy will depend mainly on the type of drug or combination of drugs, the dose, and your overall health.
Targeted therapy may cause these side effects:
- flu-like symptoms, such as fever and chills
- low blood cell counts
- nausea and vomiting
- skin problems, including rash
- poor wound healing (with ramucirumab)
- heart problems (with trastuzumab)
Tell your healthcare team if you have these side effects or others you think might be from targeted therapy. The sooner you tell them of any problems, the sooner they can suggest ways to help you deal with them.
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Esophageal and esophagogastric junction. BC Cancer Agency (BCCA). Cancer Management Guidelines. BC Cancer Agency; 2013.
Other treatments for oesophageal cancer (cancer of the gullet). Macmillan Cancer Support. Macmillan Cancer Support. London, UK: Macmillan Cancer Support; 2012.
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Esophageal and esophagogastric junction cancers. National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology. National Comprehensive Cancer Network; 2013.
Posner, MC, Minsky BD, & Ilson DH . Cancer of the esophagus. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, & Rosenberg SA. Cancer: Principles & Practice of Oncology. 9th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2011: 79: pp. 887-923.