Hormone, HER2 targeted treatments for breast cancer

Targeted treatment for HER2 positive breast cancer

If the results of HER2 testing show you have a higher than normal level of the HER2 protein, your breast cancer is identified as HER2 positive and you will be offered targeted treatment.

If your cancer is not HER2 positive, you will not be offered targeted treatment for early or locally advanced breast cancer.


How targeted treatment works

The most commonly used targeted treatment is trastuzumab (Herceptin). Pertuzumab (Perjeta) may be offered in some situations but is currently only funded for advanced breast cancer.


In early and locally advanced breast cancer, Herceptin works by attaching itself to the HER2 protein on the outside of the breast cancer cells to stop the cancer growing and spreading.

How Herceptin is given

Herceptin is given at regular intervals for up to 12 months. The first few doses are given while you are having chemotherapy treatment. It is given into a vein (intravenous) and side effects are uncommon. While you receive Herceptin you will have ongoing routine tests to check how well your heart is working. For a small number of people Herceptin can cause heart problems.

clinic setting 9515


Hormone treatments

If the results of hormone receptor testing  show that you have hormone receptor positive cancer you will be offered hormone treatment (endocrine therapy). This is used to slow or stop the growth of hormone receptor positive cancer cells. If your cancer is not hormone receptor positive, you will not be offered hormone treatment.


When hormone treatments are given

Hormone treatment usually starts after surgery and/or when chemotherapy is finished. If you are having Herceptin (targeted treatment), hormone treatment may be given at the same time. Hormone treatment can sometimes be given before surgery (neoadjuvant treatment) to shrink the cancer and make it easier to remove.


Types of hormone treatment


These are different treatments that lower or block the level of oestrogen and progesterone in the body. The choice of treatment will depend on your age, if your breast cancer has hormone receptors on it and, for women, if you have reached menopause. Hormone treatment is not suitable for everyone with breast cancer. Your treatment team will advise you on the best treatment for you.

Before you begin any hormone treatment for breast cancer you should discuss hormone replacement therapy and safe contraception options with your treatment team.

Advanced (secondary) breast cancer

More information about receiving treatments for advanced breast cancer can be found here.


Advance care planning

Advance care planning helps you and the people important to you talk about the end of your life, and about the treatments and care you might want towards the end of your life. This will then guide your family/ whānau and doctors when you can no longer tell them yourself.

Advance care planning is voluntary – no one can force you to do it. For more information, visit the Advance Care

Planning website www.advancecareplanning.org.nz.

Read more about complementary/alternative or integrative treatments here.