Pertuzumab (Generic Name)

Other Names: Perjeta®

About This Drug

Pertuzumab is a drug used to treat cancer. This drug is given in the vein (IV).

Possible Side Effects (More Common)

  • Bone marrow depression, especially in combination with other anti-cancer therapies. This is a decrease in the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.  This may raise your risk of infection, make you tired and weak (fatigue), and raise your risk of bleeding.
  • Generalized weakness and discomfort (aches or pains)
  • Headache
  • Nausea and throwing up (vomiting). These symptoms may happen within a few hours after your treatment and may last up to 72 hours. Medicines are available to stop or lessen these side effects. 
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea) that may last for a few days 
  • Decrease in appetite (decreased hunger)

Possible Side Effects (Less Common)

  • Changes in the tissue of the heart. Some changes may happen that can cause your heart to have less ability to pump blood. Your heart function will be checked as needed.

Infusion Reactions

While you are getting this drug in your vein (IV), you may have a reaction to the drug. You will be given medicines to help stop or lessen these symptoms. Your vital signs will be checked during the infusion and for 24 hours after the infusion. Tell your doctor or nurse right away if you have any of these symptoms any time during the infusion and/or for the first 24 hours after getting this drug:

  • Fever, chills, or shaking chills
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Headache
  • Nausea or throwing up

Treating Side Effects

  • Drink 6-8 cups of fluids each day unless your doctor has told you to limit your fluid intake due to some other health problem. A cup is 8 ounces of fluid. If you throw up or have loose bowel movements, you should drink more fluids so that you do not become dehydrated (lack water in the body from losing too much fluid).
  • Ask your doctor or nurse about medicine to help stop or lessen nausea, throwing up, diarrhea (loose bowel movements), constipation (not able to move bowels), indigestion, abdominal pain, bloating, or headache.
  • Mouth care is very important. Your mouth care should consist of regular, gentle cleaning of your teeth or dentures and rinsing your mouth with a mixture of ½ teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of water or ½ teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) in 8 ounces of water. This should be done at least after every meal and at bedtime.
  • If you have mouth sores, avoid mouthwash that contains alcohol. Also avoid alcohol and smoking because they can bother your mouth and throat.

Food and Drug Interactions

There are no known interactions of pertuzumab with food. This drug may interact with other medicines. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medicines and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs and others) that you are taking at this time. The safety and use of dietary supplements and alternative diets are often not known. Using these might affect your cancer or interfere with your treatment. Until more is known, you should not use dietary supplements or alternative diets without your cancer doctor's help.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or nurse right away if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.5 F (38 C) or higher
  • Chills
  • Easy bleeding or bruising
  • Wheezing or trouble breathing
  • Rash or itching
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Feeling that your heart is beating in a fast or not normal way (palpitations)
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea) more than 4 times in one day, or diarrhea with weakness or lightheadedness
  • Blurred vision or other changes in eyesight
  • Pain when passing urine; blood in urine 
  • Pain in your lower back or side
  • Feeling confused or agitated
  • Nausea that stops you from eating or drinking
  • Throwing up (vomiting) more than 3 times a day
  • Chest pain or symptoms of a heart attack. Most heart attacks involve pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes. The pain may go away and come back. It can feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. Sometimes pain is felt in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach. If any of these symptoms last 2 minutes, call 911.
  • Symptoms of a stroke such as sudden numbness or weakness of your face, arm, or leg, mostly on one side of your body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, feeling dizzy, loss of balance or coordination; or sudden, bad headache with no known cause.  If you have any of these symptoms for 2 minutes, call 911. 
  • Signs of liver problems: dark urine, pale bowel movements, bad stomach pain, feeling very tired and weak, unusual itching, or yellowing of the eyes or skin

Call your doctor or nurse as soon as possible if any of these symptoms happen:

  • Change in hearing, ringing in the ears
  • Decreased urine
  • Unusual thirst or passing urine often
  • Pain in your mouth or throat that makes it hard to eat or drink
  • Nausea that is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • Rash that is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • Heavy menstrual period that lasts longer than normal
  • Numbness, tingling, decreased sensation or weakness in fingers, toes, arms, or legs
  • Trouble walking or changes in the way you walk, feeling clumsy when buttoning clothes, opening jars, or other routine hand motions
  • Swelling of legs, ankles, or feet
  • Weight gain of 5 pounds in one week (fluid retention)
  • Lasting loss of appetite or rapid weight loss of five pounds in a week
  • Fatigue that interferes with your daily activities
  • Headache that does not go away
  • Painful, red, or swollen areas on your hands or feet.
  • No bowel movement for 3 days or you feel uncomfortable
  • Extreme weakness that interferes with normal activities

Reproduction Concerns

  • Pregnancy warning: This drug may have harmful effects on the unborn baby, so effective methods of birth control should be used by both men and women during your cancer treatment and for up to 6 months after treatment.
  • Genetic counseling is available for you to talk about the effects of this drug therapy on future pregnancies. Also, a genetic counselor can look at the possible risk of problems in the unborn baby due to this medicine if an exposure happens during pregnancy. 
  • Breast feeding warning: It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk.  For this reason, women should talk to their doctor about the risks and benefits of breast feeding during treatment with this drug because this drug may enter the breast milk and badly harm a breast feeding baby.

Revised November 2014

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