Targeted Therapy

The most common targeted therapy (sometimes called biological therapy) for breast cancer is the drug Herceptin (trastuzumab).

Herceptin is a monoclonal antibody and works by attaching to HER2 receptors (proteins) on the surface of breast cancer cells.

This stops the cancer cells from dividing and growing and allows the immune system to kill cancer cells. Herceptin can only be used in women with HER2 positive breast cancer, which are around 15-20% of breast cancers.

Herceptin may be an option for part of your treatment (given as an injection), and a 12 month course is funded by the NZ Government.

Other targeted therapy drugs are Tykerb (lapatinib) which also targets the HER2 protein and is used for advanced breast cancer. It is given orally as a pill but is not presently funded by the NZ Government.