Herceptin Side Effects

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Herceptin® is a brand of trastuzumab injection developed by the drug company Genentech. The medication is a genetically engineered cancer medication available by prescription only. Herceptin® targets a form of breast cancer called HER2+ which is highly aggressive compared to other forms of cancer. It may also be used for Her2+ gastric cancer of the stomach or the gastroesophageal junction.[1]

Like other chemotherapy drugs, Hereceptin® has a number of potentially severe and even fatal side effects ranging from serious heart and lung problems to shortness of breath, rapid weight gain, and dizziness.[1] In addition, about 2 percent of Herceptin patients develop congestive heart failure.[2]



Flickr: euthman
Brand name for Trastuzumab injection[1]
Manufacturer Genentech[1]
Uses Treats HER2+ breast cancer, metastatic beast cancer, and gastric cancer.[1]
Common side effects Reduced appetite, pain in bones or muscles, insomnia, depression, flushing, nosebleeds, acne, changes in nails, stomach pain, heartburn, bowel movement issues[2]
Who should not take Herceptin Women who are pregnant, nursing, or considering becoming pregnant; anyone with heart or lung problems[1]
Disclaimer The information provided by PharmacyDrugGuide.com is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Do not take any action based on the information on this page without consulting a physician.
Author Hugh Shiebler


Common Herpcetin Side Effects

Common adverse reactions to Herceptin® include exhaustion; fever; low white and red blood cell counts; low platelet counts; oral swelling; nasal swelling; upset stomach; respiratory infections; diarrhea; constipation, coughing; muscle pain; and a tingling, numb, or painful sensation in the legs, arms, hands and feet.[2]

Patients being treated with Herceptin® for breast cancer may experience different side effects than those treated for stomach cancer. Stomach cancer patients are more likely to experience diarrhea; swelling of the mouth lining, mucous membranes, or nose and throat; weight loss; upper respiratory tract infections; low platelet counts; and changes in sense of taste. Breast cancer patients have commonly reported nausea, vomiting, infections, cough, shortness of breath, rash, and muscle pain.[1]

About Drug Side Effects

An overview of adverse reactions that can occur with prescriptions like Herceptin

Herpcetin Allergic Reactions

Allergic reactions to Herceptin® are rare. However, they can be serious and even fatal. Patients may demonstrate allergies to active ingredient trastuzumab or other, inactive ingredients in Herceptin®. Patients allergic to mouse proteins may be sensitive to this drug, as Herceptin® contains proteins from the ovaries of Chinese hamsters. The drug is also suspended in a solution of nutrients along with the antibiotic gentamicin, although the manufacturer notes that the antibiotic is not detectable in the final preparation.

Inactive ingredients of Herceptin® include L-histidine HCl, L-histidine, a,a-trehalose dihydrate, polysorbate 20 and the preservative benzyl alcohol.[3]

Herpcetin Precautions and Warnings

  • Injections of Herceptin® can cause severe or even fatal heart issues. Therefore, doctors typically only recommend this medication to patients who have healthy hearts.
  • Herceptin® can also have potentially dangerous interactions with radiation therapy to the chest, or anthracycline medications for cancer.
  • Herceptin® can cause dangerous reactions while the medication is being administered or up to a full day following treatment.
  • Herceptin® injections have the potential to cause serious lung damage.[2]
  • When taken by pregnant women, Herceptin® can cause harm or death to the fetus. These negative effects can last up to six months following Herceptin® treatment, even before conception.
  • In patients taking Herceptin in conjunction with chemotherapy, white blood cell count may decrease to life-threatening levels.[1]
  • Herceptin® is only effective on HER2-positive tumors, and will not affect other forms of cancer.[1]
  • Herceptin® can cause reactions with other medications or supplements. For example, the drug may interact with Abraxane® and Taxol® in dangerous ways.[2]
  • This drug can cause severe problems in the lungs, and may not be suitable for patients with history of lung tumors or other types of damage to the lungs, particularly if these issues have affected breathing.[2]


Also See: Herceptin Coupons, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Zelboraf Side Effects, Yervoy Side Effects, Arimidex Side Effects, Arimidex Patient Assistance Programs, Boniva Side Effects, Marijuana and Cancer



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 http://www.herceptin.com/breast/herceptin/
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a699019.html
  3. http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2000/trasgen020900lb.htm