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Targeted therapy for melanoma

A targeted therapy is a type of treatment that uses drugs to target specific molecules (usually proteins) involved in cancer cell growth while limiting harm to normal cells. Targeted therapy may also be called molecular targeted therapy.

Targeted therapy may be used to treat metastatic or unresectable melanoma with the BRAF V600 mutation.

Targeted therapy drugs

About half of all melanomas have changes in the BRAF gene (known as BRAF V600 mutation). This mutation causes the production of an altered BRAF protein that makes melanoma cells grow and divide. A number of targeted therapies have been developed which target this BRAF mutation. Most of these are given by mouth.

The targeted chemotherapy drugs that are used to treat melanoma are:

  • vemurafenib (Zelboraf)
  • dabrafenib (Tafinlar)
  • trametinib (Mekinist)
  • pembrolizumab (Keytruda) – given by intravenous (IV)intravenous (IV)Within or into a vein (a blood vessel that carries blood from tissues and organs in the body to the heart). infusion
  • nivolumab (Opdivo)

For more detailed information on specific drugs, go to sources of drug information.

See a list of questions to ask your doctor about targeted therapy.


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