What Pertuzumab is and what it is used for?
- Pertuzumab is a monoclonal antibody which targets the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) on cells. HER2 is found in large amounts on the surface of some cancer cells, resulting in tumors growing more quickly. As pertuzumab binds to different site of HER2, a combination therapy of pertuzumab and trastuzumab exerts a more complete blockage of HER2 from receiving growth signals. This prevents further cancer growth and slows cancer progression.
- Pertuzumab is used with trastuzumab and other medicines to treat patients with HER2 positive breast cancer.
How Pertuzumab is given?
- It is given as an infusion into a vein over 30-60 minutes.
What should I know while receiving Pertuzumab?
- An infusion reaction may happen during or shortly after the infusion, causing rash, dizziness, fever and chills, headache, breathing difficulties, and sick feeling in stomach. Tell your nurse right away if you feel unwell during an infusion.
- Do not receive this drug when you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Effective contraception should be used during treatment and for at least 7 months after the treatment ends.
- Do not receive any kind of vaccination without doctor's approval.
- You will have regular blood tests and an electrocardiogram (ECG) to check that you have enough blood cells and have adequate organ functions to receive this drug. The timing of your treatment may be changed based on the test results or other side effects.
- Some of drugs may affect how pertuzumab works. Tell your doctor about all the medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
- The existing health problems may affect the use of pertuzumab. You should let your doctor know if you have any other medical problems, especially if you have heart diseases.
Common side effects
- Low white blood cell count
You may have a higher risk of getting infections. Try to stay away from crowds and wash hands often. Tell your doctor right away if you have repeated fevers, coughing, stuffy nose, a painful urination or wound that becomes red and swollen.
- Nausea or vomiting
Medicines may be given before the treatment to prevent it happening. Eating and drinking often in small amounts may reduce the discomfort.
Talk to your doctor and ask for advice. Drinking plenty of water and dietary changes can improve diarrhea.
- Weakness and fatigue
Try to pace yourself and rest as much as possible. Seek medical advice if fatigue does not go away when you rest and sleep.
- Skin rash
A rash can be itchy, red, or painful. Tell your doctor about any skin changes that you have, they can give you medicines and advices that help you feel better.
- Hair loss
This is more common when the patient is receiving pertuzumab with docetaxel. It may begin 2-3 weeks after your first treatment. Hair growth should return after treatment has finished.
- Numbness, tingling or pain in hands or feet
This is more common when the patient is receiving pertuzumab with docetaxel. Protect areas where sensation is decreased and let your doctor know any unusual feeling you have.
Less common side effects
- Loss of appetite
Try to eat in small quantities and have frequent meals. If your appetite does not get any better after a few days, tell your doctor.
- Muscle or joint pain
Talk to the doctor if the pain is bothering you, they can give you medicine to help ease pain.
- Taste alteration
Foods may taste differently or you may have a metallic taste in the mouth. Taste may return slowly after the treatment has ended.
- Difficulty sleeping
Talk to your doctor if this bothers you. Treatments usually include lifestyle changes, medications, or a combination of both.
- Eye irritation
You might have dry eyes or infection in the eyes. Tell your doctor if this happens. Medicines can be given to relieve symptoms.
- Mouth sore
This is more common when the patient is receiving pertuzumab with docetaxel. Your doctor can give you medicines to help you ease the discomfort. Good mouth care will help prevent mouth sores.
- Changes in heart function
Contact a doctor right away if you notice that you have an abnormal heartbeat or have pain or tightness in your chest. It is important to get them checked by a doctor.
- Alcohol and cigarettes may interfere with certain medicines or worsen side effects from chemotherapy treatment. It is wise to avoid alcohol and cigarette smoking during cancer treatment. If you have any problem about drinking alcohol and smoking, you should check with your doctor.