Trastuzumab (Herceptin) is given as a shot into a vein
breast cancer cells that make too much of
(overexpress) a protein called
HER-2, which is found on the surface of some cancer
cells. Trastuzumab slows or stops the growth of these cells. Not all breast
cancers make this protein.
Trastuzumab is used after surgery and
chemotherapy to treat breast cancer that tests positive for HER-2. It is also
used to treat metastatic or recurrent HER-2 breast cancer. It may be used by
itself or may be combined with other medicines.
Trastuzumab slows or stops the growth
of breast cancer that overexpresses the HER–2 protein. It is used only to treat
this type of breast cancer, which tends to grow faster and is more likely to come back (recur).
Trastuzumab also is used to control breast cancer that has spread (metastasized) in women
who have HER-2 breast cancer.
After HER-2 breast cancer is first
treated, trastuzumab treatment lowers the risk of the cancer coming back
(recurring). Taking trastuzumab after surgery and chemotherapy is an effective treatment and makes it more
likely that a woman will stay cancer-free and live longer.
Trastuzumab is also used to treat HER-2-positive cancer that has recurred
or spread (metastasized). It slows HER-2 tumor growth and reduces tumor size.
Fever and chills commonly occur during the
first treatment with trastuzumab and become less severe with later treatments.
Other possible serious side effects can include difficulty breathing and
Less serious side effects
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug
Reference is not available in all systems.)
Trastuzumab can cause
heart failure if it damages the heart muscle. You will
be carefully evaluated for heart disease before and during treatment with this
Trastuzumab is a powerful treatment for HER-2 breast
cancer. The heart risk linked to trastuzumab can also be serious. Talk to your
doctor about whether trastuzumab is a good choice for you.
Trastuzumab can cause birth defects. Do not use this medicine if you are
pregnant or trying to become pregnant.
Trastuzumab should be given
only under the supervision of a
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
June 28, 2011
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Douglas A. Stewart, MD - Medical Oncology
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