HERCEPTIN (Trastuzumab)

Warning: This drug may cause serious heart problems, such as heart failure. The risk for the heart problems are increased if you take an anthracycline (e.g. doxorubicin). Your doctor should be aware of all heart problems that occur, as they may be able to prescribe you something else.

Herceptin may also cause a reaction to the IV infusion with serious lung problems. If it does occur it is usually within 24 hours of dosage. If you experience any shortness of breath or dizziness/fainting, tell your doctor immediately.

Dosage:   Herceptin is given by an IV, administrated by a medical professional. The treatment for breast cancer is once a week, while the treatment of stomach cancer is once every 3 weeks. The first infusion is given over 90 minutes. The time it takes to get this treatment as well as the dosage will depend on your response to the medication and body size.

Overdose:  Herceptin overdose can be fatal. An overdose of Herceptin can result in a decrease in white blood cells and platelets, which can cause serious or life threatening health problems in some patients. In addition, Herceptin overdose can also lead to kidney problems and/or severe heart problems. Therefore, avoid anything that can weaken your immune system and the risk of infection. During the treatment, keep all appointments with your doctor and laboratory. Tell your doctor about all abnormal symptoms you experience.

Missing dose: Do not miss any doses to receive all benefits of this medication. If for some reasons you cannot be present at the hospital for the therapy, contact your oncologist before the date you are scheduled for the injection. Do not stay home because you are experience side effects; Herceptin  cause side effects in most patients. Missing a dose or a session of the therapy can affect the entire treatment.

Interactions: Your doctor should be aware of all the interactions associated with this medicine. Keep a list of all medications you are on. Tell your doctor if you have used previous anti-cancer medications, such as doxorubicin, daunorubicin, cyclophosphamide, as well as medications for high blood pressure, recent immunizations, and drugs that weaken the immune system (cyclosporine, corticosteroids).

Contraindications: Tell your doctor and pharmacist of all known allergies, as you may be allergic to some ingredients in Herceptin.

Consult with your doctor about all medications you have taken in the past, such as previous radiation therapy for cancer, as well as virus infections that reoccur, current infections, high blood pressure, lung problems, and past severe reaction to monoclonal antibody medication.

Don’t have any immunizations while on this medication. Avoid any contact with people that have recently had the oral polio vaccination and the flu vaccine inhaled through the nose.

Avoid contact sports as you may be more susceptible to bleeding, cuts, bruising and flesh wounds.

You may get dizzy while taking Herceptin. Avoid driving, operating machinery or doing anything that requires alertness.

Do not take this treatment if you are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant, as it may cause harm to an unborn baby.

Mechanism of action (MOA): Herceptin is a human IgG 1 type monoclonal antibody directed against the receptor 2 epidermal growth factor (HER2). It works by inhibiting or stopping the growth of cancer cells that overexpress HER2.

Side effects: Herceptin also affects healthy cells, which cause adverse effects in most patients. common Herceptin side effects include:

  • hair loss
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • insomnia (or difficulty sleeping)
  • fever
  • nausea and vomiting
  • depression (very rare)
  • infusion reactions
  • increased cough
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • rash
  • low white and red blood cells
  • Muscle pain

You need to see a medical specialist as soon as you can if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • anxiety or confusion
  • nose bleeding
  • fast or irregular heart beat
  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • dizziness
  • severe depression symptoms
  • intense head ache
  • wheezing
  • feeling of constriction of the throat
  • sudden low or high blood pressure
  • swelling of feet or lower legs
  • painful or difficult urination whichcontain blood
  • Pain in lower back or in the side, accompanied by fever or chills

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