It is only suitable for a small minority (about 15 - 20%) of women with breast cancer. To be suitable your your cancer must have the Her-2 receptor. Like chemotherapy and hormone therapy it treats breast cancer that has (or potentially has) spread to other parts of the body.

It is an outpatient treatment given every 1 - 3 weeks by a drip directly into the bloodstream.

Treatment lasts about a year although duration of treatment is currently debated.

Common side effects are:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea

Current guidance suggests that women receiving Herceptin should also be monitored for uncommon side effects on the heart with a regular heart scan (echocardiogram).

At the time of writing we only have evidence to say that Herceptin is effective in women who are also having chemotherapy.

Further information is available at www.breastcancercare.org.uk where there are useful fact sheets