Herceptin

Generic Name: Trastuzumab

  • What is Herceptin?

    Herceptin is used to treat adults with certain forms of breast cancer. Herceptin blocks cell growth, especially in cells that grow fast, such as cancer cells.

  • What is the most important information I should know about Herceptin?

    Herceptin treatment can result in heart problems, including ones without symptoms (reduced heart function) and ones with symptoms (congestive heart failure). The risk and seriousness of these heart problems are highest in people who receive both Herceptin and a certain type of chemotherapy (anthracycline). Your doctor may stop Herceptin treatment if you have a significant drop in your heart function.

    You should be monitored for decreased heart function before your first dose of Herceptin and frequently during treatment, as well as after your last dose of Herceptin. If you must permanently or temporarily stop Herceptin due to heart problems, you should be monitored more frequently. In one study with Herceptin and certain types of chemotherapy, an inadequate blood supply to the heart occurred.

    Some patients have had serious infusion reactions and lung problems; fatal infusion reactions have been reported. In most cases, these reactions occurred during or within 24 hours of receiving Herceptin. The drug should be temporarily stopped if you have shortness of breath or very low blood pressure. Your doctor will monitor you until these symptoms go away. If you have a severe allergic reaction, swelling, lung problems, inflammation of the lung, or severe shortness of breath, your doctor may need to completely stop Herceptin treatment.

    Contact a doctor immediately if you experience any of the following: new or worsening shortness of breath, cough, swelling of the ankles/legs, swelling of the face, palpitations, weight gain of more than 5 pounds in 24 hours, dizziness, or loss of consciousness.

    Herceptin can cause harm to a developing baby. If you are of childbearing age, use effective birth control methods during treatment with Herceptin and for a minimum of 6 months after treatment has stopped. If you are pregnant or become pregnant while taking Herceptin, you are encouraged to enroll in the Herceptin Pregnancy Registry (known as MotHER). Contact your doctor for enrollment information.

  • Who should not take Herceptin?

    Your doctor will determine if you should not receive Herceptin prior to its administration.

    Herceptin has not been studied in children.

  • What should I tell my doctor before I take the first dose of Herceptin?

    Tell your doctor about all prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medications you are taking before beginning treatment with Herceptin. Also, talk to your doctor about your complete medical history, especially if you have heart or lung problems, have previously had a reaction when you were given Herceptin, are receiving other types of chemotherapy, or if you are pregnant or intend to become pregnant.

  • What is the usual dosage?

    The information below is based on the dosage guidelines your doctor uses. Depending on your condition and medical history, your doctor may prescribe a different regimen. Do not change the dosage or stop taking your medication without your doctor's approval.

    Your doctor will determine the dose based on your weight, condition, and whether you are taking other chemotherapy agents. The number of treatment cycles will depend on how you respond to Herceptin therapy.

  • How should I take Herceptin?

    Your doctor will administer Herceptin.

  • What should I avoid while taking Herceptin?

    You should avoid becoming pregnant while taking this medication.

  • What are possible food and drug interactions associated with Herceptin?

    No significant interactions have been reported with Herceptin at this time. However, always tell your doctor about any medicines you take, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

  • What are the possible side effects of Herceptin?

    Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, tell your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking this drug.

    Side effects may include: fever, nausea, vomiting, infusion reactions, diarrhea, infections, increased cough, headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, rash, low white and red blood cells, muscle pain

  • Can I receive Herceptin if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

    Herceptin can harm your unborn baby if taken during pregnancy. You should avoid becoming pregnant while taking this drug. Tell your doctor immediately if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

  • What should I do if I miss a dose of Herceptin?

    Herceptin should be given under special circumstances determined by your doctor. If you miss your scheduled dose, it is best to speak to your healthcare provider for advice.

  • How should I store Herceptin?

    Your doctor will store Herceptin prior to its administration.

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