herceptin side effects and precautions of Herceptin

Trastuzumab Adjuvant Therapy for Breast Cancer and Its Use in Metastatic Breast Cancer Treatment

The most common herceptin side effects to trastuzumab adjuvant therapy for breast cancer and its use in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer include: fever, nausea, vomiting, infusion reactions, diarrhea, infections, worsening cough, headache, fatigue, difficulty breathing, rash, neutropenia, anemia, and myalgia.

Adverse reactions that may require interruption or discontinuation of trastuzumab treatment include: congestive heart failure, significant left ventricular function decline, severe infusion reactions, and pulmonary reactions. In the treatment of gastric cancer with trastuzumab, the most common adverse reactions (≥10%) that increased by ≥5% compared to the chemotherapy group were: neutropenia, diarrhea, fatigue, anemia, stomatitis, weight loss, upper respiratory tract infections, fever, thrombocytopenia, mucositis, nasopharyngitis, and dysgeusia. Apart from disease progression, the most common adverse reactions leading to treatment discontinuation were infections, diarrhea, and febrile neutropenia.

Herceptin Side Effects:

  • Herceptin Side Effects 1.Allergic Reactions: Dizziness and rash may occur during use; severe cases can lead to a drop in blood pressure or shock, although deaths due to shock are extremely rare.
  • Herceptin Side Effects 2.Cardiovascular System Effects: May cause a decline in cardiac function, presenting as palpitations, anxiety, chest tightness, difficulty breathing, increased cough, with severe cases experiencing nocturnal paroxysmal dyspnea, S3 gallop rhythm, or reduced ejection fraction.
  • Herceptin Side Effects 3.Cold-like Symptoms: Some may experience fever, chills, headache, chest and back pain, fatigue, joint pain, and muscle pain, similar to symptoms of a cold.
  • Herceptin Side Effects 4.Nervous System Symptoms: Anxiety, depression, dizziness, insomnia, sensory abnormalities, and somnolence may occur in some individuals.
  • Herceptin Side Effects 5.Digestive System Reactions: Abdominal pain, diarrhea, anorexia, constipation, dyspepsia, gastrointestinal bloating, nausea, and vomiting may occur. However, even if gastrointestinal reactions occur, the symptoms are generally mild.
  • 6.Respiratory System Reactions: A very small number of individuals may experience asthma, coughing, difficulty breathing, pleural effusion, nosebleeds, pharyngitis, and rhinitis.


  • 1.If minor allergic reactions occur after medication use, most people can continue using it after symptomatic treatment; severe allergic reactions necessitate drug discontinuation.
  • 2.Individuals with cardiovascular diseases, such as coronary artery disease or hypertension, should have their cardiac function thoroughly assessed before using the medication. If necessary, consult a cardiologist to ensure cardiac safety. After starting the medication, cardiac monitoring is essential, with a cardiac ultrasound recommended every three months. If left ventricular ejection fraction EF<50% is found, accompanied by chest tightness and palpitations, it is necessary to evaluate the need for medication discontinuation.
  • 3.It’s best to avoid excessive strenuous exercise during treatment to not overly burden the heart. Moderate exercise, such as walking and slow walking, is advisable based on individual conditions.
  • 4.If a viral infection occurs, such as viral cold, viral myocarditis, or enterovirus infection, rest is crucial without overexertion.
  • 5.Pay attention to dietary adjustments, consume high-protein, high-vitamin foods to ensure nutritional intake, and enhance the body’s resistance.
  • 6.If possible, appropriate use of traditional Chinese medicine can help strengthen the body and reduce the side effects of targeted therapy.

Herceptin, also known by its generic name trastuzumab, is a groundbreaking medication that has transformed the treatment landscape for breast cancer. Developed specifically for cancers that overexpress the HER2/neu gene, Herceptin has become a cornerstone in the management of HER2-positive breast cancer. This article delves into the introduction of Herceptin, its usage and dosage, the story of its development, its manufacturing in the United States, its pricing, sales status, and its advantages over similar drugs.

herceptin side effects and precautions of Herceptin
herceptin side effects and precautions of Herceptin


Herceptin is a monoclonal antibody that targets the HER2 protein, a receptor found on the surface of some cancer cells. Overexpression of HER2 is observed in approximately 20-30% of breast cancers and is associated with aggressive disease and poor prognosis. By binding to the HER2 protein, Herceptin inhibits the proliferation of cancer cells that overexpress the gene. Its introduction has significantly improved survival rates for patients with HER2-positive breast cancer.

Usage and Dosage

Herceptin is used in both the adjuvant setting, to prevent cancer recurrence after surgery, and in the metastatic setting, to treat advanced disease. The standard dosage of Herceptin for adults is an initial loading dose of 4 mg/kg over 90 minutes, followed by 2 mg/kg over 30 minutes weekly. For those on a three-weekly regimen, after the initial loading dose of 8 mg/kg, the subsequent dose is 6 mg/kg administered every three weeks. Dosage adjustments may be necessary based on patient tolerance and side effects.

Development History

The development of Herceptin is a tale of innovation and perseverance. In the late 1980s, scientists at Genentech, a biotechnology company, began exploring the role of the HER2 protein in breast cancer. Dr. Dennis Slamon and his team at the University of California, Los Angeles, played a crucial role in identifying the importance of targeting HER2 in breast cancer therapy. Despite initial skepticism and funding challenges, clinical trials demonstrated Herceptin’s effectiveness, leading to its FDA approval in 1998.

Manufacturing in the United States

In the United States, Herceptin is manufactured by Genentech, a member of the Roche Group. Genentech has been at the forefront of biotechnology since its founding in 1976, and its facilities are known for their state-of-the-art manufacturing processes and commitment to quality. The production of monoclonal antibodies like Herceptin requires sophisticated technology and stringent quality control to ensure the safety and efficacy of the medication.


The cost of Herceptin can be substantial, reflecting the complexity of its production and its value as a life-saving therapy. In the United States, the price of Herceptin treatment for a year can exceed $70,000, depending on the dosage and treatment duration. However, patient assistance programs and insurance coverage can significantly reduce out-of-pocket expenses for many patients.

Sales Status and Competitive Advantage

Herceptin has consistently been a top-selling cancer drug since its introduction, with sales reaching billions of dollars annually. Its success can be attributed to its effectiveness in improving survival rates and quality of life for patients with HER2-positive breast cancer. Compared to other treatments, Herceptin’s targeted approach minimizes damage to healthy cells, reducing side effects and improving patient outcomes.


Herceptin represents a significant advancement in the fight against breast cancer. Its development story is a testament to the importance of targeted therapy in oncology. While its cost is high, the benefits it provides to patients with HER2-positive breast cancer are undeniable. As research continues and new therapies emerge, Herceptin remains a critical tool in the oncologist’s arsenal, offering hope to thousands of patients around the world.

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