Herceptin is a monoclonal antibody. (For more detail, see “How this drug works” section below).
What this drug is used for:
Herceptin is used to treat metastatic (spread) breast cancer. It is effective against tumors that overexpress the HER2/neu protein.
As part of chemotherapy regimen for adjuvant treatment of lymph-node positive, HER2/neu protein positive breast cancer.
It is not known whether or not trastuzumab may be effective in other cancers that may also have this HER-2/neu protein, including ovarian, stomach, colon, endometrial, lung, bladder, prostate, and salivary gland tumors.
Note: If a drug has been approved for one use, physicians may elect to use this same drug for other problems if they believe it may be helpful.
How this drug is given:
Trastuzumab is given through an infusion into vein (intravenous, IV). The first dose is given over 90 minutes. If well-tolerated subsequent maintenance doses may be given over 30 minutes.
The amount of trastuzumab that you will receive depends on many factors, including your height and weight, your general health or other health problems, and the type of cancer or condition being treated. Your doctor will determine your dose and schedule.
Important things to remember about the side effects of trastuzumab:
The side effects of trastuzumab and their severity depend on whether the drug is given in combination with other medications. In other words, trastuzumab given in combination with other chemotherapy drugs may produce more severe side effects.
The following side effects are common (occurring in greater than 30%) for patients taking trastuzumab. The frequency of side effects reported is based on single agent trastuzumab:
During the first infusion of this trastuzumab, you may develop chills or a fever. Your health care provider might prescribe medicine to prevent or treat these symptoms.
These side effects are less common side effects (occurring in about 10-29%) of patients receiving trastuzumab. The frequency of side effects reported is based on single agent trastuzumab:
Shortness of breath
Rhinitis or pharyngitis (see cold symptoms)
Insomnia (see sleep problems)
Rash (see skin reactions)
Swelling (usually of the feet, ankles or hands)
The most common reactions associated with trastuzumab in breast cancer were , headache, fatigue, dyspnea, rash,fever, nausea, increased cough, neutropenia, anemia,vomiting, infusion reactions, diarrhea, infections, and myalgia The most common reactions associated in metastatic gastric cancer were neutropenia, diarrhea, fatigue, anemia, stomatitis, thrombocytopenia, weight loss, upper respiratory tract infections, fever, mucosal inflammation, nasopharyngitis, and dysgeusia