Targeted therapies are sometimes used to treat bowel cancers that have spread to other parts of the body.

What are targeted therapies?

Targeted therapies interfere with the way cancer cells grow.

Targeted therapies are sometimes used to treat bowel cancers that have spread to other parts of the body. They may be given on their own or with chemotherapy.

Targeted therapies that may be used include:

All of these drugs are given into a vein as an infusion (intravenously) except for regorafenib, which is taken as tablets.

Not all bowel cancers respond to cetuximab or panitumumab. Your doctors will test the cancer cells for a cell change called a RAS gene mutation, which is called being tested to find out your RAS status. Knowing if these genes are normal or changed (mutated) can help the doctors decide whether cetuximab or panitumumab will be appropriate for you.

Cetuximab and panitumumab are often given with chemotherapy.

If your cancer specialist thinks that a targeted therapy may be helpful, they will discuss this with you. However these drugs are not widely available through the NHS. If a drug isn’t available on the NHS, there may be different ways you are still able to have it. Your doctor can give you advice. They may be able to apply for funding to get it.

Side effects

Targeted therapy drugs may cause side effects which will depend on the drug you are having. Always tell your cancer doctor or nurse about any side effects you have.

We have more information about the side effects of each drug.

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