What is Herceptin?
Herceptin is a biologic breast cancer treatment targeted against cancer cells which have a receptor called HER2.
Who is Herceptin suitable for?
Herceptin is effective in the treatment of breast cancer for women who are HER2-positive. The HER2 receptor is present in 1 in 5 breast cancer sufferers.
During diagnosis for breast cancer your cells will be tested for HER2.
How does Herceptin work?
When the HER2 protein connects with another protein in the body called the human epidermal growth factor, it causes the breast cancer tumours to divide and grow rapidly.
Herceptin works by attaching itself to the HER2 protein and stopping the epidermal growth from reaching the breast cancer cells. This prevents the breast cancer cells from dividing and growing. Herceptin also stimulates the immune system to attack the breast cancer cells.
How is Herceptin given?
Herceptin is given intravenously and may be used with, or after, other breast cancer treatments.
During early stage breast cancer that is HER2-positive, Herceptin may be given alone or in conjunction with chemotherapy.
In cases of HER2 positive metastatic breast cancer Herceptin can be taken indefinitely to control the cancer. Note however that because Herceptin has not been used long enough as a treatment, it is currently unknown whether you can stop taking Herceptin once you appear to be free of breast cancer.