Herceptin is a prescription drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat metastatic breast cancer in cases where tumors overexpress the HER2 protein and one or more chemotherapy regimens have been tried. Herceptin is used as a treatment for advanced breast cancer and may also be prescribed as adjuvant (after surgery) treatment to reduce the chances of recurrence in women who have been successfully treated for breast cancer. Herceptin is also known by its drug name, Trastuzumab.
In about 25 percent of breast cancers, there is a genetic variation that causes tumor cells to produce extra receptors for a growth factor. This gene, known as Human Epidermal growth factor Receptor 2 (HER2), causes the cancer to grow more aggressively. Herceptin is a member of a class of drugs called biologics. Herceptin is a monoclonal antibody designed to turn off the HER2 gene. Herceptin is believed to work by reducing the amount of growth factor receptors on cancer cells, thereby slowing the growth of tumors.
How do I take it?
Herceptin is given as an intravenous injection once a week or once every three weeks.
Herceptin is available as a powder packaged in a vial.
The FDA-approved label for Herceptin lists common side effects including nausea, headache, diarrhea, and chills.
Rare but serious side effects listed for Herceptin can include heart failure, lung damage, and severe infusion reactions.