Targeted therapies can be used on patients who have a specific gene mutation in their melanoma tumors known as the BRAF mutation. Targeted therapy medications are designed to target specific mutations that are driving the growth and spread of the tumor, Dr. McKean says.
Most patients experience short-term side effects from targeted therapy. Common side effects include fever, chills, fatigue, nausea, and rash. These can usually be managed either by temporarily stopping the drugs or giving steroids. Once side effects are under control, most patients can resume targeted therapy.
“It’s very rare to have any long-term complications from targeted therapy,” Dr. McKean says. “Overall, it’s a fairly safe regimen.”
Severe side effects from targeted therapy are possible and could include cardiac toxicity, arrhythmias, or heart failure, but these side effects generally aren’t seen in the adjuvant setting, according to Dr. McKean.