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Information for Healthcare Providers / Patients / Our Medicines

Herceptin® (trastuzumab)

Side Effect Reporting

You may report side effects to the FDA at (800) FDA-1088 or www.fda.gov/medwatch.

You may also report side effects to Genentech at (888) 835-2555.

What it Treats

Adjuvant indications

Herceptin® (Trastuzumab) is indicated for adjuvant treatment of HER2-overexpressing node-positive or node-negative (ER/PR-negative or with one high-risk feature*) breast cancer:

  • As part of a treatment regimen containing doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, and either paclitaxel or docetaxel
  • With docetaxel and carboplatin
  • As a single agent following multi-modality anthracycline based therapy

* High-risk is defined as ER/PR positive with one of the following features: tumor size >2 cm, age <35 years, or tumor grade 2 or 3.

Metastatic indications

Herceptin is indicated: 

  • In combination with paclitaxel for the first line treatment of HER2-overexpressing metastatic breast cancerIn combination with cisplatin and capecitabine or 5-fluorouracil, for the treatment of patients with HER2-overexpressing metastatic gastric or gastroesophageal junction adenocarcinoma, who have not received prior treatment for metastatic disease.

Important Safety Information and Serious Side Effects

Herceptin treatment can result in heart problems, including those without symptoms (such as reduced heart function) and those with symptoms (such as congestive heart failure). One patient died in an adjuvant (early) breast cancer trial from significantly weakened heart muscle. The risk and seriousness of these heart problems were highest in people who received both Herceptin and a certain type of chemotherapy (anthracycline).

Before taking the first dose of Herceptin and during treatment, a patient’s doctor should check to see if there are any health conditions that may increase the patient’s chance of having serious heart problems. This includes a review of the patient’s health history and tests to see how well the heart muscle is working. These tests may include an echocardiogram or a MUGA scan. Some early breast cancer patients may also need to have a test done after they have finished taking Herceptin to see how well their heart muscle is working.

Some patients have had serious infusion reactions and lung problems; fatal infusion reactions have been reported. These reactions usually occur during or within 24 hours of receiving Herceptin.

The patient’s doctor may need to completely stop Herceptin treatment if the patient has a severe allergic reaction, swelling, lung problems, inflammation of the lung, or severe shortness of breath.

Herceptin can cause harm to the fetus (unborn baby), in some cases death to the fetus, when taken by a pregnant woman. Women who could become pregnant need to use effective birth control methods during Herceptin treatment and for at least 6 months after treatment with Herceptin. Nursing mothers treated with Herceptin should discontinue nursing or discontinue Herceptin.

Worsening of low white blood cell counts associated with chemotherapy has also occurred.

Patients must have a HER2 test to determine if their breast or stomach cancer is HER2 positive before using Herceptin, as benefit has only been shown in patients that are HER2 positive.

The most common side effects associated with Herceptin in patients with breast cancer are fever, nausea, vomiting, infusion reactions, diarrhea, infections, increased cough, headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, rash, low white and red blood cells, and muscle pain.

The most common side effects associated with Herceptin in patients with stomach cancer are low white blood cell counts, diarrhea, fatigue, low red blood cell counts, inflammation of the lining of the mouth, weight loss, upper respiratory tract infections, fever, low platelet counts, swelling of mucus membranes, swelling of the nose and throat, and a change in taste.

Because everyone is different, it is not possible to predict what side effects any one person will have. Patients with questions or concerns about side effects should talk to their doctor.

Patients should read the Herceptin Full Prescribing Information including Boxed WARNINGS, at www.herceptin.com.

Patient Access

Genentech Access Solutions offers coverage support, patient assistance, other useful information needed for Herceptin.