Targeted therapy for vulvar 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.

Some people with vulvar cancer have targeted therapy. 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 metastatic vulvar cancer

Types of targeted therapy

Different types of targeted therapy are used for vulvar cancer.

Monoclonal antibodies

Monoclonal antibodies have been designed in a lab to recognize and lock onto particular protein markers on the surface of some cancer cells.

Bevacizumab (Avastin and biosimilars) may be used to treat metastatic vulvar cancer.

Tyrosine kinase inhibitors

Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) block chemicals called tyrosine kinases. These chemicals are part of the signalling process within cells. When this process is blocked, the cell stops growing and dividing.

Erlotinib (Tarceva) works on cancer cells that have the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) protein. It targets the tyrosine kinase part of the protein. It may be used to treat metastatic vulvar cancer.

Expert review and references

Medical disclaimer

The information that the Canadian Cancer Society provides does not replace your relationship with your doctor. The information is for your general use, so be sure to talk to a qualified healthcare professional before making medical decisions or if you have questions about your health.

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