1 What is Herceptin?

Brand: Herceptin

Generic: Trastuzumab

Herceptin is used for the treatment of various stages and forms of breast cancer including advanced stages that have spread to the other parts of the body. It is given to the patients who are positive for certain genes called HER2 NEU receptor.

Trastuzumab or Herceptin should only be used in those patients in whom there is an extra production of this certain protein (Her2 protein). It can also be used in combination with other drugs of chemotherapy such as cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, paclitaxel, docetaxel, and carboplatin.

This product is available in the following dosage forms:

  • Powder for Solution

2 What To Know Before Using

Before using Herceptin, you must know all about the risks and complications associated with it. Your doctor will consider these risks before prescribing the drug and will inform you about them.

Following factors should be considered before taking this drug:


If you have had an allergic reaction to this drug in the past, inform your doctor. You should also tell your healthcare provider if you are allergic to any other drugs or food products.

Age-specific problems

The data regarding the effects of this medicine specific to the pediatric age group is not yet available. Its safety and efficacy have not been established in children.

The studies specific to the geriatric age group have not been carried out, therefore its safety and efficacy have not been established in older age group. However, geriatric population is more prone to having kidney, liver and heart problems.


Regarding the safety of usage of this drug during pregnancy, it comes under “D” category, which means that clinical trials on animals have revealed harmful effects to the developing fetus. This drug should only be used in a life threatening situation.

Drug Interactions

Certain drugs should not be used together because they can interact inside the body which can have a harmful effect. On the other hand, certain drugs are allowed to be used together.

So, you should tell your doctor about any other medications you are taking. If there is a chance of interaction between those two drugs, the doctor may change the dose or may prescribe an alternative drug.

This medication should be used cautiously with following drugs:

  • Amrubicin
  • Aclarubicin
  • Daunorubicin
  • Doxorubicin
  • Daunorubicin Citrate Liposome
  • Doxorubicin Hydrochloride Liposome
  • Idarubicin
  • Epirubicin
  • Pirarubicin
  • Valrubicin
  • Pixantrone

Furthermore, certain medications should not be taken with alcohol or tobacco, which may also result in harmful interactions. Ask your doctor about the concurrent use of this drug along with alcohol or tobacco.

You should also inform your doctor about any other medical condition you may be suffering from, especially:

3 Proper Usage

To use Herceptin properly, you must follow all instructions given by your doctor. Chemotherapy drugs are very strong and they can have a lot of adverse effects on your body. Make sure you understand the effects of this drug on your body before starting. 

This medication should only be given under the supervision of a doctor. It is usually given through an injection in your veins. Trastuzumab must be given slowly, so the IV tube must remain in place for at least 90 minutes.

4 Precautions To Take

Before using Herceptin, there are some precautions you must take. You need to have some heart test before starting this drug. This medication should not be used while you are pregnant because it can cause severe birth defects.

Herceptin can cause severe infusion reaction. This drug can cause a decrease in a number of white blood cells which can lead to infections. So, avoid contact with people having an infection while you are on Trastuzumab.

It is important for your doctor to monitor the response to the medicine and look for any side effects. Therefore, regular follow-up is necessary during and after the treatment. Contact your doctor if your symptoms have not improved even after taking the full course of treatment.

Avoid taking any other medicine unless thoroughly discussed with your doctor. Always ask your doctor before using any prescription, non-prescription or herbal medicine.

5 Potential Side Effects

Make sure you meet with your doctor in using Herceptin to avoid unwanted potential side effects. Chemotherapeutic drugs can cause a number of side effects along with its desired effects.

Although these side effects may occur only in a handful of patients, but if they do occur, contact your physician immediately.

This medication is associated with the following side effects:

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Fever or chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Skin rash
  • Stuffy or a runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Unusual tiredness or weakness
  • Cough
  • Bloody nose
  • Difficult or labored breathing
  • Diarrhea
  • Ear congestion or pain
  • General feeling of discomfort or illness
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Hoarseness or other voice changes
  • Head congestion
  • Increased cough
  • Loss of appetite
  • Joint pain
  • Nasal congestion
  • Shivering
  • Pain or tenderness around the eyes and cheekbones
  • Sneezing
  • Swelling of the feet or lower legs
  • Sweating
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Vomiting
  • Trouble with sleeping
  • Blurred vision
  • Blue lips and fingernails
  • Confusion
  • Chest pain
  • Faintness or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position suddenly
  • Cough or hoarseness, accompanied by fever or chills
  • Large, hive-like swelling on the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, feet, or sex organs
  • Itching
  • Painful or difficult urination, accompanied by fever or chills
  • Lower back or side pain, accompanied by fever or chills

Seek medical help instantly, if you experience any of these symptoms while on this drug. Also contact your health care professional immediately, if you have overdosed on this drug. If any of these side effects becomes more bothersome or does not go away, contact your doctor.