What are the risks with herceptin (trastuzumab) therapy?

Heart failure. About 4% of women treated with Herceptin (trastuzumab) develop some weakness in their heart as measured by a muga test. This decrease in heart function is reversible when the drug is stopped. Other side effects of Herceptin (trastuzumab) can include allergic reaction, fatigue, headache and diarrhea. Most of my patients have no side effects!
Herceptin (trastuzumab) Herceptin (trastuzumab) is an imp drug for breast cancer therapy. It can cause infusion reaction, affect blood counts, mild nausea, most important risk is a decline in heart function called cardiomyopathy. This is rare though about 5-6% risk and usually is reversible but cardiac function will need to be monitored during Herceptin (trastuzumab) therapy by serial ultrasounds (or echocardiograms).

Related Questions

How is herceptin (trastuzumab) therapy administered to a patient?

Intravenously. Herceptin (trastuzumab) is given through an iv, typically in your cancer doctor's office.
IV. Herceptin (trastuzumab) is intravenous, and given w chemotherapy. Once the course of chemotherapy has finished, Herceptin (trastuzumab) is given, as a single agent, for a total of one year.

At 42 yr diagnosis her2 pos br ca, triple pos, node neg. 7 yrs ago. Treatment : bilat mass, chemo, herceptin (trastuzumab) \oop. 6 yr a.I. Should I stay on a.I?

No recommended. Aromatase inhibitors (ai) have not been shown to be effective past five years, and are usually recommended to be stopped at the five year mark.
More info/maybe. This would be easier to answer if the tumor size and grade wear provided. In general, studies in hormone positive breast cancer have shown an advantage to 10 years of tamoxifen over 5 years. Though this cannot be extrapolated to ais, which are considered more effective than tamoxifen, this may be the case. Knowing tumor size and grade would help with prognosis.
Need info/ may be. Need information re- stage (tumor size) and grade etc. Discuss with your oncologist in detail. There are 2 studies showing that 10 yrs of tamoxifen is better than 5 years. The MA 17R study hopefully will be able to answer in regard to the use of AI. On switching trials the average length of endocrine therapy is about 7-8 years -tamoxifen 2-3yr then switched to AI x 5 yrs. You need to d/w your onc.

I finish my herceptin (trastuzumab) treatment in 20th november 2012 and will have IVF to have my frozen embryos replaced. When would be the earliest I can do this?

Depends. The timing of pregnancy after cancer treatment varies considerably. Please discuss this with your oncologist. In most cases you will need a period of time, sometimes years without cancer before proceeding with pregnancy. In some cases it may be safer to avoid pregnancy and use a gestational surrogate. Again, these are issues that you should discuss with your oncologist.

After undergoing surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, herceptin (trastuzumab) then hormonal treatment, how much more can my body tolerate?

You can do it! Stick with it--her-2 positive breast cancer is highly treatable for cure! Each component of treatment is helpful and improves outcomes. You can do it!

What are financial implications of using herceptin (trastuzumab) as a breast cancer treatment?

? I have never had an issue of trastuzumab (herceptin) coverage in appropriate patients. Individual co-pays are based on each patients insurance. There may be a benefit of trastuzumab in 0/low expression breast cancer that is the subject of a cooperative group clinical trial -- nsabp b-47 - clinicaltrials. Gov id: nct01275677.
Depends. Herceptin (trastuzumab) is a very expensive drug so the total cost of treatment will be obviously higher. That said, it is a good drug and most insurances will cover its use in the appropriate setting. Best regards.
Good question. Herceptin (trastuzumab) is very effective for breast cancers that overexpress the her2/neu receptor. But as you point out it is very expensive. The financial implications are huge for the us healthcare system. Studies done outside the us show that far less than 1 year of Herceptin (trastuzumab) may be enough for treating early stage breast cancer, but studies done in the us don't look at how to make treatments less costly.

Is it common for people who are using herceptin (trastuzumab) as a breast cancer treatment to have raised liver blood test readings?

Herceptin (trastuzumab) toxicity. Liver toxicity is not a common side effect of treatment with herceptin (trastuzumab). It does happen, but more frequent causes of abnormal liver tests might be other chemo drugs given with herceptin (trastuzumab).
Not usually. Herceptin (trastuzumab) is a pretty safe drug. As far as I know it does not affect liver functions. But many other drugs including chemotherapy can increase the liver enzymes. You should ask you oncologist to confirm it with the drug manufacturer or from a drug information source.