trastuzumab, Herceptin

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Cancer 101: Cancer Explained

GENERIC NAME: trastuzumab

BRAND NAME: Herceptin




  • Trastuzumab is used for preventing recurrence (adjuvant treatment) of HER2 overexpressing breast cancer. It is also used for metastatic breast cancer or metastatic gastric or gastroesophageal junction adenocarcinoma among patients who overexpress HER2. It may be used alone or combined with other chemotherapeutic drugs.



Trastuzumab can cause heart failure, especially when it is combined with anthracycline-containing chemotherapy regimens. Left ventricular function should be monitored prior to and during treatment. Trastuzumab should be stopped in patients receiving adjuvant therapy, and withheld in patients with metastatic disease if the function of the heart decreases significantly.

Trastuzumab can cause serious and fatal infusion reactions and pulmonary toxicity. Symptoms usually occur during treatment or within 24 hours of treatment. The infusion should be interrupted if patients develop shortness of breath or significant reduction in blood pressure, and patients should be monitored until symptoms completely resolve.

Trastuzumab should be stopped if any of the following occurs

Use of trastuzumab during pregnancy can cause oligohydramnios and oligohydramnios sequence, manifesting as pulmonary hypoplasia, skeletal abnormalities, and death of the baby.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/31/2016

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