Targeted Cancer Care

What is Targeted Cancer Therapy?
Our goal is to improve the effectiveness of cancer therapy, while at the same time minimizing drug side effects. To do this, we have partnered with pharmaceutical companies who are actively developing a new generation of cancer drugs collectively known as targeted therapy. Instead of simply acting as non-specific “cell poisons”, as do traditional chemotherapy drugs, these new inhibitors target and interfere with the activity of specific proteins that drive tumor growth and spread. Some targeted therapies are specific to a single gene or protein, whereas others can simultaneously target any one of a group of these factors. By therapeutically targeting the abnormal protein activity that is specific to the cancer cells, the impact of these drugs on normal cells is dramatically reduced, thereby limiting side effects.

How to Get Tested
Tumor genetic analysis (also known as genotyping) is becoming increasingly important for effectively tailoring cancer treatment based on specific genetic abnormalities found in an individual’s tumor. This information can guide the use of certain FDA-approved standard therapies, and can also help direct patients to the most relevant investigational drugs available in clinical trials. Options available for tumor molecular testing are rapidly expanding.

Mass General Genotyping
Mass General Cancer Center was one of the first to develop and offer tumor molecular testing that simultaneously screens for well over 100 cancer-associated mutations that have important clinical implications. This assay, known as MGH SNaPshot, is performed as a CLIA-validated clinical assay (not research) that can be ordered by any one of our treating oncologists. All patients seen in consultation at the Mass General Cancer Center, regardless of cancer type, are considered for tumor testing using MGH SNaPshot if the results might contribute to their care. To receive more information on MGH SNaPshot testing, please call 617-726-0808.