Brand name: Herceptin®
available by prescription only
Indications: Trastuzumab is used along with other
medications to treat metastatic HER2 (Human
Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor-2)+ breast
aggressive form of breast cancer. The drug is
often used in combination with paclitaxel or the first-line treatment of HER2-overexpressing metastatic breast
Trastuzumab is also indicated as a
single agent for the treatment of breast cancer with HER2 overexpression after surgery, chemotherapy and / or
radiotherapy. Trastuzumab may also be prescribed for other medical conditions not mentioned in this article.
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Trastuzumab is given by
injection into a vein
Dosage: the dose of Gemzar recommended by your
doctor depends on the type of cancer being treated, the overall state of your health, and your body mass index
(your weight and height).
Trastuzumab comes as a liquid to be
injected into a vein. The drug is usually given once a week as a single agent (monochemotherapy), or once every
3 weeks along with other chemotherapy medications (polychemotherapy). In the absence of complications,
Trastuzumab is usually taken for long term to increase the chance of recovery.
the drug may cause hypersensitivity reactions during the first course of the therapy: fever, dyspnea,
hypotension, and flushing. More rarely, Trastuzumab can cause pulmonary edema and severe cardio-pulmonary
problems. In fact, some patients that have been treated with Trastuzumab experience life-threatening heart
problems. Therefore, during treatment with Trastuzumab, regular cardiac exams, every 8 to 10 weeks, are
Trastuzumab should be administered
with great care by medical professionals such as oncologists or physicians who have experience in chemotherapy
drugs. Trastuzumab should be given in a hospital or similar institution that has access to sterilization
equipments for its preparation.
Overdose: Trastuzumab overdose can be fatal. An
overdose of Trastuzumab can result in a decrease in white blood cells and platelets, which can cause serious or
life threatening health problems in some patients. In addition, Trastuzumab overdose can also lead to kidney
problems and/or severe heart problems. Therefore, avoid anything that can weaken your immune system and the risk
of infection. During the treatment, keep all appointments with your doctor and laboratory. Tell your doctor
about all abnormal symptoms you experience.
because Trastuzumab is
administered in hospital, missing dose is basically difficult if you respect your doctor’s appointments
promptly. If for some reasons you cannot be present at the hospital for the therapy, contact your oncologist
before the date you are scheduled for the injection. Do not stay
home because you are experience side effects; Trastuzumab
cause side effects in most patients. Missing a dose or a session of the
therapy can affect the entire treatment.
contraindicated in the following conditions:
to Trastuzumab or any of its ingredients
- serious heart disease.
Mechanism of action (MOA): Trastuzumab is a human IgG 1 type monoclonal antibody directed against the receptor 2 epidermal
growth factor (HER2). It works by inhibiting or stopping the growth of cancer cells that overexpress HER2.
Interactions: talk you to your doctor before
vitamins or nutritional supplements.
Some medications are not recommended to be used along with Trastuzumab; they can decrease the healing power of the
drug, or increase the risk of developing side effects. Consult your doctor before taking these
- Ganciclovir, an antiviral drug
- Azathioprine, an immune system inhibitor
- Barbiturates, depressant drug that causes relaxation and
, a drug
used to inhibit the production of
acid in the stomach
medication used to treat pain of
vaccine, yellow fever vaccine, etc.
(Cytoxan), a medication of the
alkylating agent family used to treat a variety of cancers
- Celecoxib, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)
used in the treatment of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, painful menstruation, colon and rectum
Side effects: while attacking
cells, Trastuzumab also affects
healthy cells, which cause adverse effects in most patients.
- hair loss
- difficulty sleeping
- nausea and
- low white and red
- Muscle pain.
If the side
effects above persist for weeks, contact your oncologist. In addition, contact your doctor if you experience any
of these symptoms:
- fast or irregular
- chest pain
- shortness of
- intense head
- feeling of
constriction of the throat
- swelling of feet or
- painful or difficult
urination which contain blood
Pain in lower back or in the side, accompanied by fever or chills.