What is Perjeta® ? (pertuzumab)

Perjeta is a targeted treatment in combination with (trastuzumab) and chemotherapy for certain patients with early-stage, advanced, or metastatic (has spread to other parts of the body) breast cancer that is HER2+. Pertuzumab is manufactured by Genentech.1

What is the active ingredient in Perjeta?

The active ingredient in Perjeta is pertuzumab, an HER2 receptor antagonist, which blocks the HER2 receptor.1

How does pertuzumab work?

Breast cancers that are HER2+ have an excess of HER2 receptors. Pertuzumab targets these receptors and blocks them, which can lead to the cancer cell’s death. Pertuzumab is used in combination with trastuzumab and chemotherapy. Trastuzumab also targets HER2 receptors, but pertuzumab and trastuzumab work on different parts of this receptor. Combining pertuzumab with trastuzumab and chemotherapy can target the cancer cells in multiple ways.1,2

What are some of the possible side effects of pertuzumab?

Pertuzumab may cause serious side effects, including heart problems. Early signs of heart problems may include shortness of breath, cough, swelling of the ankles or legs, swelling of the face, heart palpitations, rapid weight gain (more than 5 pounds in 24 hours), dizziness, or loss of consciousness. People receiving pertuzumab that experience any of these symptoms should get immediate medical attention.1,2

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Pertuzumab can cause birth defects to an unborn fetus which may lead to the death of the unborn baby, and pertuzumab should not be used by women who are pregnant.1,2

Some people receiving pertuzumab experience serious allergic reactions to the medication. Any signs of an allergic reaction, such as difficulty breathing and/or swelling of throat or face, should be immediately brought to the attention of a healthcare professional.1,2

Pertuzumab is delivered by intravenous (IV) infusion and may cause an infusion-related reaction, which can cause symptoms such as1,2:

  • Fatigue
  • Altered taste
  • Muscle pain
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Allergic reactions
  • Fever or chills

The most common side effects experienced by women with metastatic breast cancer who received pertuzumab in combination with trastuzumab and chemotherapy include1,2:

  • 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

These are not all the possible side effects of pertuzumab. Patients should talk to their doctor about what to expect with treatment with pertuzumab.

Things to know about pertuzumab

Because pertuzumab can cause birth defects or fatal harm to an unborn fetus, women who can become pregnant who receive pertuzumab should use birth control during their treatment and for 7 months after treatment is completed (patients should discuss appropriate birth control methods with their doctor).1,2

Pertuzumab should not be used by women who are breastfeeding, as it may cause harm to the child. Women who are breastfeeding should discuss stopping breastfeeding with their doctor before receiving treatment with pertuzumab.1,2

Because pertuzumab may cause heart damage, heart function tests may be performed before and during treatment with pertuzumab. Based on the results of these tests, your treatment with pertuzumab may be paused or stopped.1,2

Receiving pertuzumab

Pertuzumab is given as an intravenous (IV) infusion, and the infusion usually takes between 30 and 60 minutes. Other additional treatments, such as trastuzumab and chemotherapy, will take additional time for infusion administration when given in combination with pertuzumab infusion.1

Patients should talk to their doctor if they have any questions, or if they have questions regarding their pertuzumab regimen. Before starting treatment with pertuzumab, patients should tell their doctor or healthcare provider about all their health conditions, as well as any medications (prescription and over-the-counter), herbal supplements, and vitamins they are taking.

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Written by: Editorial Team | Last reviewed: October 2020.