Trastuzumab or Herceptin is used in the treatment of breast cancer, either by itself in women refractory to chemotherapy or in combination with paclitaxel.
Trastuzumab or Herceptin is a monoclonal antibody which is directed against the production of the protein known as HER2. In one variety of breast cancer, HER2 stimulates the growth of breast cancer cells, thus Trastuzumab or Herceptin is specific for tumours which involves this protein.
Trastuzumab or Herceptin is cardiotoxic. Side effects are common, occurring in about 40% of people - chills, fever, pain, nausea, vomiting, headache, diarrhea. There also is a increased risk for respiratory infections, blood problems, and anemia.
Because Trastuzumab or Herceptin is cardiotoxic, people who have cardiovascular problems may not be able to use it; or may use it but with close monitoring.
Trastuzumab or Herceptin can be used in combination with paclitaxel. In general, it may be considered less toxic than other therapies, however it is able to add to the toxicities of other chemotherapeutic drugs.
Proc Am Soc Clin Oncol 1998;17:97a
The relevant product monographs must be regarded as the appropriate sources of prescribing information.