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Herceptin - Uses - Dosages - Side Effects - Precautions

Herceptin: Frequently Asked Questions Answered

What is Herceptin?

Herceptin is a brand name of a generic medicine called trastuzumab. It is used to treat breast, stomach, and esophagus cancers. Trastuzumab belongs to a class of drugs called monoclonal antibodies and is used alone or in combination with other medicines. Herceptin targets the cancerous cells that produce highly abnormal amounts of human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 protein (HER2). The drug can block the effect of HER2 proteins and allow the body’s immune system to fight the cancer cells.

What are the uses of Herceptin?

Herceptin is used to treat

  • the early and advanced stages of metastatic breast cancer after chemotherapy sessions. 
  • the elevated levels of HER2 proteins in the stomach or food pipe in combination with other drugs.

Depending on the prognosis and type of cancer, the drugs will be given once, every 1 or 3 weeks. Consult an expert doctor at Yashoda Hospitals to know more about Herceptin and cancer treatment.

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What are the side effects of Herceptin?

Get a medical opinion at Yashoda Hospital about other medications, possible pregnancy, heart, kidney, or lung-related problems before taking Herceptin. 

Common side effects includes:

  • Fever
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Low RBC count
  • Muscle pain
  • Severe headache
  • Tingling sensation in the limbs

Herceptin also causes acute respiratory distress syndrome or anaphylaxis within 24 hours of dose administration. Decreased pulse rate, chest tightness, or rapid breathing must be brought to the doctor’s attention immediately.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Herceptin

1. How effective is Herceptin for breast cancer?

Yes. It is effective. Overall, 84% of women who have received chemotherapy and Herceptin treatment have lived long. The cancer recurrence is also reduced by 8.4% with the timely diagnosis, surgery/chemotherapy, and treatment with Herceptin.

2. Is Herceptin a form of chemotherapy?

Herceptin can be used alone or in combination with other drugs as a part of chemotherapy treatment. To treat the advanced stages of cancer, it is combined with other drugs and administered intravenously before the surgical removal of tumors.

3. Why is Herceptin so expensive?

The machinery and the production cost of the complex drug are very expensive. The drug is a biotechnological product made from living cells cultured in the laboratory. Hence, the product is very costly. In India, the average cost is around Rs. 1.3 lakh/vial.

4. Does Herceptin cause weight gain?

If the patient has gained more than 5 pounds of weight in less than 24 hours of dose administration, consult the doctor immediately. Herceptin can cause fluid retention in the body, causing the limbs to swell.

5. Is Herceptin immunotherapy?

Herceptin drug is an example of immunotherapy and chemotherapy. It can be combined with an active component, which specifically targets the tumors in the body, and prevents their functions. The body's immune system can, therefore, fight against cancer cells.

6. Do Herceptin injections hurt?

The injection is given under the skin (subcutaneous). It may hurt once the doctor pushes the needle into the skin. You may also experience slight discomfort and pain at the injected region for a few minutes.

7. Does Herceptin make you tired?

Herceptin is a potent drug injected into your body to target the tumor cells. It is capable of making you feel tired, nauseatic, drowsy, causing muscle pain and discomfort. These side effects are common in patients who are undergoing Herceptin treatment. If the complications worsen, inform the doctor immediately.

8. What does Herceptin do to the body?

Herceptin blocks the functions of the tumor cells present in the breast and gastric region. On the contrary, the drug also has serious side effects like heart problems, drug cross-reactions, respiratory problems, and skeletal and organ deformities in the unborn child during pregnancy.

9. Can you drink alcohol while taking Herceptin?

No. Consuming alcohol during cancer treatment is not advisable by the doctors. Intake of alcohol, high caffeine, and smoking tobacco during the Herceptin treatment, can increase the risk of cardiotoxicity and other complications in the body.

10. Can a pregnant woman take Herceptin?

No. If you are pregnant or planning to conceive, do not take Herceptin. It can cause adverse effects on the developing fetus and lead to the premature death of the baby. Kindly consult your gynecologist for contraception if you want to undergo Herceptin treatment.

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Disclaimer: The information provided herein is accurate, updated and complete as per the best practices of the Company. Please note that this information should not be treated as a replacement for physical medical consultation or advice. We do not guarantee the accuracy and the completeness of the information so provided. The absence of any information and/or warning to any drug shall not be considered and assumed as an implied assurance of the Company. We do not take any responsibility for the consequences arising out of the aforementioned information and strongly recommend you for a physical consultation in case of any queries or doubts.

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