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NCCN Guidelines for Patients


Breast Cancer - Early-Stage


, Version 1.2016

HER2 inhibitors

HER2 inhibitors are only used for HER2-positive

breast cancer. They are monoclonal antibodies as

explained in

Figure 4.2

. The HER2 inhibitors used

for HER2-positive breast cancer are trastuzumab

and sometimes pertuzumab. Trastuzumab is

sold as Herceptin


, and pertuzumab as Perjeta



Trastuzumab is always used with chemotherapy.

Pertuzumab may be added if the breast cancer is

stage II.

Figure 4.2 HER2 inhibitors

Antibodies are Y-shaped proteins that are made by your body to help fight illness. Monoclonal

antibodies are human-made antibodies that attach to certain proteins on the outside of cancer

cells. HER2 inhibitors are monoclonal antibodies, which are a type of targeted therapy.

Trastuzumab was the first HER2 inhibitor approved by the U.S. FDA in 1998 to treat HER2-positive

breast cancer. Pertuzumab was approved in 2012. They attach to different parts of HER2. Thus,

they stop growth signals from HER2 in different ways. Both of them also mark breast cancer cells

for destruction by your body’s disease-fighting (immune) system.


Chemotherapy and HER2 inhibitors Overview

HER2 receptor