Trastuzumab (Generic Name)

Other Names: Herceptin, anti-HER2 monoclonal antibody

About This Drug

Trastuzumab is a special type of antibody used to treat cancer. It is given in the vein (IV).

Possible Side Effects

  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea)
  • Headache
  • Rash
  • Decreased appetite
  • Nausea and throwing up (vomiting)
  • Fever and/or chills. During the first dose, you may get a fever and/or chills. This is a temporary reaction to the drug. Your doctor may give you medicines to help lessen these side effects.
  • Allergic reactions
  • Pain. Some patients experience abdominal pain, back pain, pain at the injection site, and/or pain at the site of the tumor. It is very important to tell your doctor or nurse about your pain.
  • 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.
  • Skin and tissue irritation that may involve redness, pain, warmth, or swelling at the IV site. This happens if the drug leaks out of the vein and into nearby tissue.

Infusion Reactions

While you are getting this drug in your vein (IV), you may have a reaction.  Your nurse will check you closely for these signs: fever or shaking chills, flushing, facial swelling, feeling dizzy, headache, trouble breathing, rash, itching, chest tightness, or chest pain.  Tell your nurse or doctor if you have any of these symptoms while you are getting the drug.

Delayed Allergic Reaction

There is a possibility of a severe delayed reaction, which can happen hours to days after this drug is given. This reaction most often happens after the first dose, but can happen after any dose. At the first sign of trouble breathing, or if you have pain in your chest, get emergency care right away.

Treating Side Effects

  • Ask your doctor or nurse about medicine to help stop or lessen nausea and throwing up.
  • If you get a rash, do not put anything on it unless your doctor or nurse says you may. Keep the area around the rash clean and dry. Ask your doctor for medicine if your rash bothers you.
  • Use effective methods of birth control during your cancer treatment.
  • Tell your nurse right away if you have any pain, redness, or swelling at the site of the IV infusion while you are getting this drug.

Food and Drug Interactions

There are no known interactions of trastuzumab with any 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:

  • Trouble catching your breath
  • Chest pain
  • Trouble breathing when lying flat
  • Increased cough
  • Feeling that your heart is beating in a fast or not normal way (palpitations)
  • Swelling in your ankles
  • Temperature of 100.5 F (38 C) or higher
  • Chills
  • Throwing up more than three times in one day
  • Nausea that stops you from eating or drinking

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

  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea) more than five to six times in one day or diarrhea with weakness or feeling lightheaded
  • Nausea and/or throwing up that is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • Pain that is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • Headache that is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lasting loss of appetite or rapid weight loss (5 pounds in one week)
  • Rash that bothers you

Reproduction Concerns

  • Pregnancy warning: This drug may have harmful effects on the unborn child, so effective methods of birth control should be used during your cancer 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 July 2014

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