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What is Pertuzamab

17th July 2022 by Claire O'Donnell Education

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What is Pertuzamab

Pertuzumab is a targeted cancer drug and is also known by its brand name Perjeta.


What is it?

It is a treatment for breast cancer. You might have it:

  • before surgery (neoadjuvant treatment)
  • after surgery (adjuvant treatment)
  • for breast cancer that has spread (secondary breast cancer)
  • for breast cancer that has come back in the breast (recurrent breast cancer)

You have pertuzumab in combination with the targeted drug trastuzumab (Herceptin) and chemotherapy containing taxanes.


How it works

Human epidermal growth factor 2 (HER2) is a protein that makes cells grow and divide. Some cancers have large amounts of HER2 protein and are called HER2 positive cancers. Pertuzumab works by locking onto HER2 on the cancer cells. It stops them from growing and kills them. Pertuzumab only works if your cancer is HER2 positive.


How you have it

You have pertuzumab into your bloodstream (intravenously). Each treatment takes between 30 and 60 minutes. You have the first treatment over 60 minutes and if this goes well you might have the next treatments over 30 to 60 minutes.

Drugs in to your bloodstream:

You have the treatment through a drip into your arm or hand. A nurse puts a small tube (a cannula) into one of your veins and connects the drip to it.

You might need a central line. This is a long plastic tube that gives the drugs into a large vein, either in your chest or through a vein in your arm. It stays in while you’re having treatment, which may be for a few months.

When you have it

You have pertuzumab every 3 weeks. 


You have blood tests before and during your treatment. They check your levels of blood cells and other substances in the blood. They also check how well your liver and kidneys are working.


Side effects

How often and how severe the side effects are can vary from person to person. They also depend on what other treatments you're having. For example, your side effects could be worse if you're also having other drugs or radiotherapy.

  • Breathlessness and looking pale
  • Increased risk of infection
  • Bruising, bleeding gums or nosebleeds
  • Diarrhoea
  • Tiredness and weakness (fatigue)
  • Feeling or being sick
  • Pain
  • Skin changes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sore mouth
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty sleeping (Insomnia)
  • Indigestion
  • Taste changes
  • Fluid build up (oedema)
  • Allergic reaction
  • Nail changes
  • Hair loss
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Numbness or tingling in fingers or toes
  • Watery eyes
  • Dizziness