Adjuvant Breast Cancer Treatment
If you’ve been diagnosed with HER2+ breast cancer, you want to do all you can to fight it.
Herceptin has been studied in more than 10,000 women.
Now your doctor has prescribed adjuvant Herceptin therapy for you. Herceptin is an approved adjuvant therapy for HER2+ early-stage breast cancer.
Adjuvant therapy is additional treatment for early breast cancer that is given after the main treatment (usually surgery). Adjuvant therapy for HER2+ breast cancer may include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, or targeted therapy.
Herceptin is targeted therapy for HER2+ breast cancer1,2
Targeted therapy is different from other types of therapy. Targeted therapy is a type of medicine that is designed to attack specific cancer cells, but may also affect normal cells. Normal cells also have HER2 (just not as much), so HER2-targeted therapies can also affect normal cells and can cause side effects, including serious side effects.3
Important Safety Information
Before taking HERCEPTIN, you must have a HER2 test to determine if your cancer is HER2-positive. This is because the benefit of treatment with HERCEPTIN has been shown only in patients whose tumors are HER2-positive.
Some patients receiving HERCEPTIN for breast cancer had the following side effects:
- Feeling sick to your stomach (nausea)
- Throwing up (vomiting)
- Infusion reactions
- Increased cough
- Feeling tired
- Shortness of breath
- Low white and red blood cell counts
- Muscle pain
You should contact your doctor immediately if you have any of the side effects listed above.
- Pegram M, Slamon D. Biological rationale for HER2/neu (c-erbB2) as a target for monoclonal antibody therapy. Semin Oncol. 2000;27(suppl 9):13-19.
- Herceptin Prescribing Information. Genentech, Inc. 2016.
- American Cancer Society. Breast cancer facts & figures 2015-2016. http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@research/documents/document/acspc-046381.pdf. Accessed April 6, 2016.
In 4 trials of more than 10,000 women with early-stage breast cancer
Based on clinical trials, Herceptin is recommended for 1 year1
It is recommended that Herceptin be taken for 1 year or until your side effects become unmanageable.
Herceptin is given as an IV infusion, and there are 3 ways you can be treated. Your doctor will decide which treatment option is best for you.
- AC→TH: Herceptin is taken as part of a treatment course including the chemotherapy drugs doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, and either paclitaxel or docetaxel
- TCH: Herceptin is taken along with the chemotherapy drugs docetaxel and carboplatin
- Monotherapy: Herceptin is taken alone after treatment with several other therapies, including an anthracycline (doxorubicin)-based therapy (a type of chemotherapy)
The available dosing options are:
- With chemotherapy: When you are taking Herceptin together with chemotherapy, you will receive Herceptin once a week
- After chemotherapy: When you are taking Herceptin after surgery and completion of chemotherapy, you may receive Herceptin either every 3 weeks OR once a week. Your doctor will determine whether weekly treatment or treatment every 3 weeks with Herceptin is right for you
Serious Side Effects
Be sure to contact your doctor if you:
Are a woman who could become pregnant, or may be pregnant
HERCEPTIN may result in the death of unborn baby and birth defects. Birth control should be used while receiving HERCEPTIN after your last dose of HERCEPTIN. If you are exposed to HERCEPTIN during pregnancy or within 7 months of becoming pregnant, you are encouraged to enroll in the MotHER Pregnancy Registry by contacting 1-800-690-6720 or visiting http://www.motherpregnancyregistry.com/ and report HERCEPTIN exposure to Genentech at 1-888-835-2555.
Have any signs of SEVERE LUNG PROBLEMS, including
- Severe shortness of breath
- Fluid in or around the lungs
- Weakening of the valve between the heart and the lungs
- Not enough oxygen in the body
- Swelling of the lungs
- Scarring of the lungs
Your doctor may check for signs of severe lung problems when he or she examines you.
Have LOW WHITE BLOOD CELL COUNTS
Low white blood cell counts can be life threatening. Low white blood cell counts were seen more often in patients receiving HERCEPTIN plus chemotherapy than in patients receiving chemotherapy alone.
Your doctor may check for signs of low white blood cell counts when he or she examines you.
- Herceptin Prescribing Information. Genentech, Inc. 2016.
Why is my heart being monitored while I'm on Herceptin?
Herceptin (trastuzumab) can cause heart problems including an inability to pump blood effectively, irregular heartbeats, high blood pressure, disabling heart failure, weakening of the heart muscle, and sudden loss of heart function leading to death. Herceptin may cause reduced heart function even if there are no symptoms.
Before taking your first dose of Herceptin, your doctor should check to see if you have any health conditions that may increase your chance of having serious heart problems. This includes a review of your health history and tests to see how well your heart muscle is working. These tests may include an echocardiogram, which is an ultrasound image of the heart, or a MUGA scan, which takes a moving picture of your heart pumping blood following an injection of a radioactive substance.
In addition, you should be frequently monitored for decreasing heart function during the time you are receiving Herceptin and after your last dose of Herceptin. If you must permanently or temporarily stop Herceptin due to heart problems, you should be monitored more frequently.
What has happened to other women after their Herceptin has been stopped due to heart problems?
- In one study of patients receiving adjuvant therapy for breast cancer, 16% had to stop Herceptin because of a significant weakening of heart muscle or decreased heart function
- In another study, 2.6% of patients stopped Herceptin because of heart problems
- In two adjuvant clinical trials, among the 32 patients with significant heart problems:
- One died of significantly weakened heart muscle
- All others were on heart medication at their last checkup
- Approximately half of the surviving patients had heart function that returned to normal while on ongoing heart medications
- For patients with Herceptin-related decrease in heart function, the safety of continuing or restarting Herceptin therapy has not been studied