Prescription onlyClass: Cancer

Herceptin

(Trastuzumab)

Prescription onlyClass: Cancer
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Treats breast and stomach cancer.

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Our bottom line

Herceptin (Trastuzumab) is an effective, first-line option when used together with other medicines for certain types of breast and stomach cancers, but it has many side effects and needs a lot of monitoring.

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Upsides

  • Taking Herceptin (Trastuzumab) with other chemotherapy (anti-cancer) medicines can improve response and lower relapse in people with a certain type of breast cancer.
  • Taking Herceptin (Trastuzumab) with other chemotherapy (anti-cancer) medicines can increase the chance of living longer in people with a certain type of stomach cancer.
  • Treats breast and stomach cancer in people whose tumor has an excess of a specific protein (HER2).
  • First-line treatment option when used with other chemotherapy (anti-cancer) medicines for certain metastatic breast and stomach cancers.

Downsides

  • Not the best choice if you have heart, kidney, or lung problems.
  • Your heart function will have to be checked regularly while you're taking Herceptin (Trastuzumab). This will be done before, during, and after treatment.
  • Herceptin (Trastuzumab) can cause birth defects. Birth control is recommended while you're taking Herceptin (Trastuzumab) and for 6 months after you finish. Talk to your doctor before starting Herceptin (Trastuzumab) if you're concerned about getting pregnant.
  • There's no generic available and it can be very expensive.
How it works

Herceptin (Trastuzumab) is a monoclonal antibody. It stops tumor growth by inhibiting a specific protein in cancer cells.

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Side effect rates for Herceptin (Trastuzumab)

3386 From clinical trials of Herceptin / Breast cancer
  • Fatigue
  • Infection
  • Hot flashes
  • Shortness of breath
  • Low red blood cells
  • Nail changes
  • Joint pain
  • Rash/desquamation
  • Low white blood cells
  • Headache

Risks and Warnings for Herceptin (Trastuzumab)

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    • Higher risk if:
    • History of heart problems
    • Taking other chemotherapy (anti-cancer) medicines

    Herceptin (Trastuzumab) can increase your risk of heart failure. Heart tests may be required before starting treatment, during treatment, and after finishing treatment.

    This is a black box warning. The FDA requires this warning when there is a significant risk of serious or life-threatening effects that anyone taking the drug should consider.

Means that some groups have a high risk of experiencing this side effect

Common concerns from people taking Herceptin (Trastuzumab)

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Pregnancy
Kidneys and liver
  • Not the best choice if you have heart, kidney, or lung problems.