Trastuzumab Herceptin

Learn about your cancer drugs.


This chemotherapy and cancer drugs article is about Trastuzumab (Herceptin) which is the only monoclonal antibody treatment currently available for breast cancer. It is licensed in the UK to treat advanced breast cancer in women who over-express the HER2 gene. HER2 is a growth factor found on the surface of cells that plays a key role in regulating cell growth. Some cancers produce extra HER2 receptors. This over-expression of HER2 causes cells to grow, divide, and multiply more rapidly. Herceptin seeks out HER2 and attaches itself to the protein receptor on the surface of cells. By binding to the cells, Herceptin has been shown to slow the growth and spread of tumours that have an overabundance of HER2 protein receptors. Herceptin is usually given intravenously in the outpatients department. It has been shown in studies to shrink tumours and extend womens survival by an average of about 13 months.

Side effects can include: weakening of the heart muscle, reduction of white blood cells (neutropenia), diarrhoea, anaemia, abdominal pain, infection or allergies. Some people receiving Herceptin with Adriamycin (doxorubicin) have experienced heart problems, because of the cardiac toxicity of both drugs. This combination is no longer recommended!

Other articles that you may find interesting are:

  1. Diet for Chemotherapy ;

  2. Beneficial bacteria ;

  3. A-Z guide to complementary therapies;

  4. Your cancer, where you can read about everything from causes to cancer treatments to complementary therapies for your cancer.

  5. How to boost your immune system.

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Learn about your cancer drugs.
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