Herceptin or trastuzumab is an antibody monoclonal treatment for patients in stage II, III or IV of metastatic cancer. This breakthrough breast cancer drug was approved in 1998 by the Food and Drug Administration. This antibody monoclonal was designed in the laboratory to impede the growth of tumor cells that produce too much of the HER-2 protein. Patients diagnosed with HER-2 positive breast cancer are possible Herceptin treatment candidates. This antibody monoclonal treatment works by binding the drug to the HER-2 protein . This blocks or slows the growth of the cancer cells by blocking their chemical receptors. Herceptin or trastuzumab has been shown to slow the progression of breast cancer and improve the survival rate of those being treated. Herceptin is an antibody monoclonal form of cancer treatment for patients in stage II, III or IV of the disease.
The antibody monoclonal treatment can do several things for patients with breast cancer. Primarily it can shrink and help to rid a body of cancer when it has spread to other parts of the body. It can also help to reduce the recurrence of cancer after surgery. Herceptin doesn't bind to other protein cells so there are few side effects when using this form of treatment.
The side effects that can be expected with antibody monoclonal treatment include flu-like symptoms such as chills, fever and nausea. These symptoms usually become lesser after the initial treatment. The good news about this treatment is that it does not cause hair loss. Serious side effects from the use of antibody monoclonal treatments include an increase risk of congestive heart failure. This side effect occurs in five percent of the patients taking this medication. It is important to have an echocardiogram and a multigated blood-pool imaging scan prior to taking Herceptin.
Herceptin is administered intravenously. The first treatment usually lasts about 90 minutes and the subsequent treatments last about 30 minutes. The treatments are given on a weekly basis as long as no side effects are observed. The long term side effects of this drug are currently unknown. The drug is taken indefinitely to impede the growth of any cancer cells.
Often antibody monoclonal treatments are used in conjunction with chemotherapy. When used together, these treatments can stop the spread of cancer to other parts of the body and shrink the size of tumors prior to surgery. The combination of the two treatments can also lower the risk of cancer coming back in patients with tumors greater than two centimeters in size.
The use of this breakthrough breast cancer treatment will serve to increase the quality of life in survivors of breast cancer as well as extend the lives of those using them. Though there is still no universal cure to this horrible disease, such inventions as the monoclonal treatment, make the lives of those who suffer from cancer a little bit easier and give them the so needed hope that they will manage with their health drama.