Targeted therapy for salivary gland cancer

Targeted therapy 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.

Targeted therapy is sometimes used to treat salivary gland cancer. If you have targeted therapy, your healthcare team will use what they know about the cancer and about your health to plan the drugs, doses and schedules.

You may have targeted therapy to:

  • treat locally advanced or metastatic salivary gland cancer
  • treat salivary gland cancer that doesn't respond to other treatments or comes back (recurs) after treatment
  • treat salivary gland cancer that can't be removed with surgery

Neurotrophic tyrosine receptor kinase (NTRK) therapy

Mutations in the neurotrophic tyrosine receptor kinase (NTRK) gene can cause too much cell growth and lead to abnormal cells and cancer. Sometimes this mutation is found in salivary gland cancer cells. Cancer cells that have changes to this gene are called TRK fusion-positive.

Advanced, metastatic or recurrent salivary gland cancer that is TRK fusion-positive may be treated with:

  • larotrectinib (Vitrakvi)
  • entrectinib (Rozlytrek)

Side effects of targeted therapy

Side effects of targeted therapy will depend mainly on the type of drug or combination of drugs, the dose, how it's given and your overall health. Tell your healthcare team if you have side effects that you think are from targeted therapy. The sooner you tell them of any problems, the sooner they can suggest ways to help you deal with them.

Larotrectinib and entrectinib may cause these side effects:

Find out more about targeted therapy

Find out more about targeted therapy. To make the decisions that are right for you, ask your healthcare team questions about targeted therapy.

Details on specific drugs change regularly. Find out more about sources of drug information and where to get details on specific drugs.

Expert review and references