Brand name: Perjeta
Chemical name: Pertuzumab
How it works: HER2 inhibitors work against HER2-positive breast cancers by blocking the ability of the cancer cells to grow.
Uses: Perjeta can be used in combination with Herceptin and Taxotere, a type of chemotherapy, to treat HER2-positive, metastatic breast cancer that hasn’t been treated with chemotherapy or Herceptin yet.
Perjeta also can be used before surgery to treat HER2-positive, early-stage (the cancer must be larger than 2 cm or cancer must be in the lymph nodes), inflammatory, or locally advanced-stage breast cancer with a high risk of metastasizing or becoming fatal.
Perjeta also can be used in combination with Herceptin and chemotherapy after surgery to treat HER2-positive, early-stage breast cancer with a high risk of recurrence.
How it’s given: Perjeta is given intravenously.
Additional information: Like Herceptin, Perjeta works by attaching itself to the HER2 receptors on the surface of breast cancer cells and blocking them from receiving growth signals. Perjeta targets a different area on the HER2 receptor than Herceptin does, so it’s believed to work in a way that is complementary to Herceptin. Tykerb blocks the HER2 protein inside the cell. Perjeta was called Omnitarg in earlier studies.
- birth defects
- hair loss
- low white blood cell count (neutropenia)
- peripheral neuropathy (numbness, tingling, or burning in the hands and feet)
Because Perjeta is always given with Herceptin, it’s important to know that problems with heart function or developing heart failure can sometimes be side effects of Herceptin. While research has found that adding Perjeta to Herceptin doesn’t increase the risk of heart problems, your doctor will likely want to test your heart function before and during treatment with Perjeta, Herceptin, and chemotherapy.
Read more about Perjeta.