Targeted therapy uses drugs to make it hard for cancer cells to grow or spread. For breast cancer, these drugs target the HER2 protein. HER2 is a part of some breast cancer cells that help it grow and spread. The drugs block this protein and slow or stop the growth and spread of cancer. Targeted therapy drugs include:
Not all breast cancers have HER2. It is found in about 2 in 20 breast cancers. This type of breast cancer is often very aggressive.
Targeted therapy may be used alone or with other treatments.
Side Effects and Management
Targeted therapy may cause:
- Skin rash
- Low blood counts, which can lead to anemia or neutropenia
- Rapid heartbeat—tachycardia
- Trouble breathing
- Heart failure
- Heart muscle damage—cardiomyopathy
There are many ways to manage these and other problems. Talk to your care team as soon as these appear so they can be better controlled.
Breast cancer. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gynecology-and-obstetrics/breast-disorders/breast-cancer. Updated January 2018. Accessed March 11, 2019.
Breast cancer in women. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113654/Breast-cancer-in-women. Updated November 26, 2018. Accessed March 11, 2019.
HER2 targeted therapy for early and locally advanced breast cancer. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T901191/HER2-targeted-therapy-for-early-and-locally-advanced-breast-cancer. Updated January 28, 2019. Accessed March 11, 2019.
HER2 targeted therapy for metastatic breast cancer. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T922341/HER2-targeted-therapy-for-metastatic-breast-cancer. Updated November 13, 2018. Accessed March 11, 2019.
Targeted therapy for breast cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/treatment/targeted-therapy-for-breast-cancer.html. Updated June 5, 2018. Accessed March 11, 2019.
Last reviewed December 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP Last Updated: 3/11/2019