What Is Perjeta® (pertuzumab)?

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: June 2023

Perjeta® (pertuzumab) is a targeted treatment used in combination with trastuzumab and chemotherapy for certain people with breast cancer that is positive for the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2+). It is used for early-stage, advanced, or metastatic (has spread to other parts of the body) HER2+ breast cancer.1

What is the active ingredient in Perjeta?

The active ingredient in Perjeta is pertuzumab.1

How does pertuzumab work?

Breast cancers that are HER2+ have too many HER2 receptors. Pertuzumab targets these receptors and blocks them. This can lead to the cancer cells' death. Pertuzumab is used along with trastuzumab and chemotherapy. Trastuzumab also targets HER2 receptors. Pertuzumab and trastuzumab work on different parts of this receptor. Combining pertuzumab with trastuzumab and chemotherapy can target the cancer cells in several ways.1,2

What are the possible side effects?

The most common side effects in people with metastatic breast cancer who received pertuzumab along with trastuzumab and chemotherapy include:1,2

  • Diarrhea
  • Hair loss
  • Lowered white blood cell counts
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Rash
  • Damage to the nerves in the hands and/or feet (peripheral neuropathy), which may cause tingling, numbness, or pain

Pertuzumab may also cause serious side effects, including:1,2

  • Infusion-related reactions
  • Allergic reactions

Pertuzumab also carries a boxed warning, the strictest warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This is because it may cause:1,2

  • A heart problem called left ventricle dysfunction, which can lead to heart failure
  • Birth defects and death in unborn babies

These are not all the possible side effects of pertuzumab. Talk to your doctor about what to expect or if you experience any changes that concern you during treatment with pertuzumab.

Other things to know

Your doctor should monitor your heart function before and during treatment with pertuzumab.1,2

Pertuzumab can harm an unborn baby. If you can become pregnant, you should use birth control during treatment and for some time after the last dose of pertuzumab. Talk to your doctor about your options for birth control while taking pertuzumab. Additionally, if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed, talk with your doctor about this consideration to make sure you have a plan that is safe before starting treatment.1,2

Before beginning treatment for breast cancer, tell your doctor about all your health conditions and any other drugs, vitamins, or supplements you are taking. This includes over-the-counter drugs.

For more information, read the full prescribing information of pertuzumab.

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