What is Pertuzumab?

Pertuzumab (Perjeta) is a monoclonal antibody chemotherapy/biotherapy medication. It is used to treat metastatic and neo-adjuvant breast cancer that expresses human epidermal growth receptor 2 (HER2). It is given with another chemotherapy/biotherapy, Trastuzumab (Herceptin). Pertuzumab binds to human epidermal receptor 2 (HER2) found on tumor cells and signals the cells to die. When pertuzumab and trastuzumab are given together, a more complete blockade of HER2 is accomplished and thus, more tumor cells are signaled for destruction.

How it is administered:

Pertuzumab is an intravenous infusion. The first infusion is known as the loading dose; more medication is given during this infusion to increase the amount of the medication circulating in the body. It is a 60 minute infusion. Depending on how the initial infusion is tolerated, all subsequent infusions are 30 to 60 minutes and not as much medication is administered as the initial loading dose infusion. To prevent any reactions during infusion, pre-medications are administered prior to pertuzumab. 

What to expect:

The combination of pertuzumab and trastuzumab can cause damage to the heart tissue; prior to starting therapy and periodically throughout the course of treatment, heart functioning tests are performed. Other side effects associated include, but are not limited to: headache, fever, chills, insomnia, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, decreased appetite, weakness, back pain, water retention and cough. Laboratory tests will be performed routinely throughout the course of therapy to help manage and monitor the development of these side effects.