Some breast cancers have high amounts of a protein called HER2 on the surface of the cancer cells. These are called HER2-positive breast cancers. The HER2 protein is an important part of the pathway for cell growth and survival.
HER2-targeted therapies are used to treat HER2-positive breast cancers. They have no role in the treatment of HER2-negative cancers.
To learn more about a specific HER2-targeted therapy drug, visit the National Institutes of Health’s Medline Plus website.
The HER2 status of a tumor is determined by testing tissue removed during a biopsy. All breast cancers are tested for HER2 status.
About 10-20 percent of newly diagnosed breast cancers are HER2-positive [115-116]. These breast cancers can be treated with HER2-targeted therapies.
Learn more about HER2 status.
The table below lists the HER2-targeted therapies used to treat breast cancers.
Used to treat early or metastatic breast cancer?
Pill, injection under the skin, or IV drug (given by vein through an IV)?
Herceptin (IV drug), Herceptin Hylecta (injection)
Early and metastatic breast cancer
IV drug or injection
Ado-trastuzumab emtansine (T-DM1)
Fam-trastuzumab deruxtecan (trastuzumab deruxtecan)
Metastatic breast cancer
*Biosimilar forms of trastuzumab include: trastuzumab-anns (Kanjinti), trastuzumab-dkst (Ogivri), trastuzumab-dttb (Ontruzant), trastuzumab-pkrb (Herzuma) and trastuzumab-qyyp (Trazimera).
Learn about HER2-targeted therapies for early and locally advanced breast cancer.
Learn about trastuzumab (Herceptin) and pertuzumab (Perjeta) as part of neoadjuvant treatment.
Learn about trastuzumab, lapatinib (Tykerb) and other HER2-targeted therapies for metastatic breast cancer.
Although the exact treatment for breast cancer varies from person to person, guidelines help ensure high-quality care. These guidelines are based on the latest research and agreement among experts.
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) are respected organizations that regularly review and update their guidelines.
In addition, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has treatment overviews.
Talk with your health care providers about which treatment guidelines they use.
SUSAN G. KOMEN® SUPPORT RESOURCES
Prescription drug costs can quickly become a financial burden for you and your family.
Medicare and many insurance companies offer prescription drug plans. One may already be included in your policy or you may be able to buy an extra plan for prescriptions.
You may qualify for programs that help with drug costs or offer low-cost or free prescriptions.
Learn more about insurance plans and prescription drug assistance programs.
Susan G. Komen®'s position on fairness in oral cancer drug coverage
Insurance coverage of oral cancer drugs
Cancer medications given by vein (through an IV) are usually covered under a health insurance plan’s medical benefit. However, cancer medications that are pills (oral cancer drugs) are usually covered under a health insurance plan’s prescription drug.
As a result, people often find themselves facing high out-of-pocket costs when filling prescriptions for oral cancer drugs. Sometimes this can cost thousands of dollars a month.
The impact of high drug costs
High prescription drug costs are a barrier to care. They can prevent people from getting the medications prescribed by their health care providers.
No one should be forced to get less appropriate treatment because an insurer gives more coverage for IV drugs than pills.
Efforts to increase fairness in drug coverage
Komen supports state and federal efforts to require insurers to provide the same or better coverage for oral cancer drugs as they do for IV cancer drugs. This would help ensure patients have access to affordable, appropriate treatment.
Ask your U.S. representative to co-sponsor the Cancer Drug Parity Act.
Targeted Therapy Video
Breast Cancer 101 - Targeted Therapy
Facts for Life: Targeted Therapies
Facts for Life: Biosimilars
Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Biosimilars
Research Fast Facts
Precision Medicine: Targeted Therapies
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