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All about: Herceptin

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Some commonly used brand names are:

In the U.S.—

  • Herceptin

In Canada—

  • Herceptin

Category

  • Monoclonal antibody
  • antineoplastic

Description

Trastuzumab (tras-TOO-ze-mab) is a monoclonal antibody. It is used to treat breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. Trastuzumab may prevent the growth of some breast tumors that produce extra amounts of a certain substance known as the HER2 protein. Trastuzumab should be used only in certain patients whose breast tumors have been shown to produce extra amounts of this protein.

Trastuzumab is to be administered only by or under the immediate supervision of your doctor. It is available in the following dosage form:

  • Parenteral
  • Injection (U.S.)

Before Using This Medicine

In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For trastuzumab, the following should be considered:

Allergies—Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to trastuzumab, to mouse proteins, or to benzyl alcohol. Also tell your health care professional if you are allergic to any other substances, such as foods, preservatives, or dyes.

Pregnancy—Trastuzumab has not been studied in pregnant women. However, this medicine was found to cross the placenta in monkeys but did not cause harmful effects in the fetus. Before receiving this medicine, make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant or if you may become pregnant.

Breast-feeding—It is not known whether trastuzumab passes into the breast milk. However, breast-feeding is not recommended while you are receiving this medicine and for a while after you stop receiving it.

Children—Studies on this medicine have been done only in adult patients, and there is no specific information comparing use of trastuzumab in children with use in other age groups.

Older adults—There is no specific information comparing the use of trastuzumab in the elderly with use in other age groups. However, certain heart problems may be more likely to occur in the elderly, who may be more sensitive to the effects of trastuzumab.

Other medicines—Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your health care professional if you are taking any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.

Other medical problems—The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of trastuzumab. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

  • Heart disease—Risk of heart problems caused by trastuzumab may be increased
  • Lung disease—Risk of lung problems caused by trastuzumab may be increased

Proper Use of This Medicine

Dosing—The dose of trastuzumab will be different for different patients. The dose that is used may depend on a number of things, including your size. Trastuzumab usually is given by a doctor or nurse in the hospital or outpatient clinic. If you have any questions about the proper dose of trastuzumab, ask your doctor.

Precautions While Using This Medicine

It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure that this medicine is working properly and to check for any unwanted effects.

Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any chest pain, increased coughing, troubled breathing, sudden difficulty breathing at night, or abnormal swelling of your ankles or legs. These could be symptoms of serious heart problems.

Side Effects of This Medicine

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur during or after the administration of trastuzumab :

More common

Dizziness; fever or chills; headache; nausea or vomiting; shortness of breath; skin rash; weakness

Rare

Tightness in chest; troubled breathing; wheezing

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

Less common

Fast or irregular heartbeat; increased cough; swelling of feet or lower legs

Rare

Blue lips and fingernails; blurred vision; chest pain; confusion; cough or hoarseness, accompanied by fever or chills; faintness or light-headedness when getting up from a lying or sitting position; increased sweating; itching; large, hive-like swelling on face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, feet, or sex organs; lower back or side pain, accompanied by fever or chills; painful or difficult urination, accompanied by fever or chills; pale skin; redness of skin; unusual tiredness or weakness

Incidence not known

Black, tarry stools; cough; shortness of breath; sore throat; sores, ulcers, or white spots in mouth; unusual bleeding or bruising

Other side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. However, check with your doctor if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome:

More common

Diarrhea; pain

Less common

Loss of appetite; numbness or tingling of hands or feet; runny nose; trouble in sleeping

Other side effects not listed above may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your doctor.

Revised: 09/19/2005

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