Until recently, the treatment of blood cancers has rested exclusively on chemotherapy, radiation and, in select cases, stem cell transplantation, giving rise to frequent and sometimes life-threatening side effects. The past 10 years have witnessed dramatic clinical advances due to the development of novel therapies, hereafter referred to as targeted therapies, which specifically inhibit molecules that are essential to the pathophysiology of individual malignancies. In this article, we will discuss the general concept of targeting signaling pathways in cancers and the limitations of this strategy, with a particular focus on the emergence of resistant cancer clones under the selective pressures exerted by targeted therapies. Finally, we will examine a number of targeted therapies with immediate application in contemporary clinical practice.
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