Targeted therapy for children's cancer

This information was written by the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG).

There are many new drugs being developed for children’s cancer that work differently from the way chemotherapy works. These are often called biological agents or targeted drugs.

Biological therapies or targeted agents work by blocking a specific gene or protein that cancer cells have. Special tests on your child’s cancer cells in the laboratory may be done to see whether any of the new targeted drugs may work on your child. Often, as these drugs are new, they are used in clinical trials.

Imatinib (Glivec®) is one such drug that’s mostly used to treat a particular form of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and occasionally some other types of cancer. It works by blocking signals within cancer cells and preventing a series of chemical reactions that cause the cells to grow and divide. Your child’s doctor will advise if this type of treatment is suitable for your child.

Children's cancer information from CCLG

This information about children’s cancer was written by the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG). It has been reviewed and edited by their publications committee, which includes medical experts from all fields of children’s cancer and care.

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Alternative treatments

Alternative treatments are unproven therapies that aim to treat cancer. They may cause problems when used with or without conventional treatments.