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Biological, Hormonal & Targeted Therapies
Hormones are naturally occurring substances in our bodies that stimulate the growth of hormone-sensitive tissues, such as the prostate gland or breast. When cancer arises in these tissues, its growth may be influenced by the body’s hormones. One way to fight cancer is to use drugs that block hormone production or change the way hormones work. Like chemotherapy, hormone therapy is considered a systemic treatment since it can affect cancer cells throughout the body.
You may have heard about treatments called targeted therapies. These are designed to treat only cancer cells and to minimize damage to normal, healthy cells. Conventional chemotherapy and radiation therapy cancer treatments do not distinguish between cancer cells and healthy cells. Because of this, healthy cells can be damaged in the process of treating the cancer, which can result in side effects. Targeted treatments may cause fewer treatment-related side effects.
For more information on targeted therapies, view the National Cancer Institute's fact sheet, "Targeted Therapies: Questions and Answers".
Biological therapy is a treatment that uses the body’s own immune system to facilitate the destruction of cancer cells. Biological therapy is also called immunologic therapy, immunotherapy, or biotherapy. Some types of biological therapy are monoclonal antibodies, cytokines, and vaccines.
To learn more about biological therapy, view the National Cancer Institute's brochure, "Biological Therapy".