Targeted therapies (sometimes known as biological therapies) can be used to stimulate the immune system, control the growth of cancer cells, or to overcome the side effects of the treatment.

There are several types of guided therapy:

Monoclonal antibodies

  • What are antibodies?
    One of the ways the body fights infection is by producing antibodies. Antibodies help our immune system to recognize an infection if we are exposed to it again, allowing our body to handle it quickly. Antibodies can be made in a laboratory and used to treat cancer.
  • What are monoclonal antibodies?
    Monoclonal antibodies are sometimes called targeted therapies because they work by targeting specific proteins on the surface of cells. They destroy cancer by:
    • triggering the body's immune system to attack the cancer cell, which may cause the cell to kill itself
    • attaching a cancer drug or a radioactive substance to the antibody, which delivers them directly to the cancer cell because they target those specific cells (targeted therapy).

Cancer growth inhibitors

In order to grow and divide, cancer cells communicate with each other using chemical signals. Cancer growth inhibitors are drugs that interfere in this process, therefore affecting the cancer's ability to develop.

Angiogenesis inhibitors

For tumors to survive, they need to produce a network of blood vessels. Angiogenesis inhibitors interfere with the development of blood vessels. This means that the cancer cannot receive the oxygen and nutrients it needs to survive.


Vaccines have been used for years to prevent infectious diseases such as tuberculosis or measles. They aid the immune system in recognizing and attacking abnormal cells in the body. Cancer vaccines are being developed as a new cancer treatment, although they are still in the initial stages. The goal is to help the immune system recognize cancer cells.

Cancer vaccines are made from a person's own cancer cells, someone else's cancer cells, or cells grown in a laboratory. As the vaccine is similar to the cancer cells, it is hoped that the immune system will be stimulated to attack and destroy.

There are also vaccines to prevent a virus called the human papilloma virus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer.

Cancer vaccines are generally given by injection, and possible side effects include skin reaction and flu-like symptoms.

When a new treatment is being developed, it goes through several phases of research called clinical trials. Some vaccines for certain types of cancer are being tested to see if they can be used to treat cancer or stop it from returning. Ask your doctor or nurse for more information about current research trials for cancer vaccines.