What is targeted molecular therapy in context of cancer treatment?
Penn Medicine

Targeted molecular therapy is a type of personalized medical therapy designed to treat cancer by interrupting unique molecular abnormalities that drive cancer growth. Targeted therapies are drugs that are designed to interfere with a specific biochemical pathway that is central to the development, growth and spread of that particular cancer.

Because not every cancer develops in the same way in every person, targeted molecular therapy is personalized to the individual. In some cancers, the molecular targets are known. But in other cancers, these targets are still being identified. In some cases, the same types of cancer have different molecular targets. Identifying the molecular targets in any given patient's cancer requires working closely with pathologists to carefully analyze the cancer pathology.

Targeted cancer therapies such as targeted molecular therapy give medical oncologists a better way to customize cancer treatment. Advantages of molecularly targeted therapy include:

  • Potentially less harm to normal cells
  • Potentially fewer side effects
  • Improved effectiveness
  • Improved quality of life


Targeted therapy refers to an emerging class of drugs that destroy cancerous cells, leaving healthy cells unharmed, and without the use and unwanted side effects of chemotherapy and radiation - nausea, hair loss, and weakness and fatigue.

Continue Learning about Cancer Treatment

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.