What Herceptin treatment feels like
The first time you get a Herceptin infusion (usually delivered by IV during a weekly hospital visit), you may feel like you're coming down with the flu. About 40% of women get chills, fever, nausea, vomiting, headache, and dizziness. But these side effects usually get better after the first treatment and become quite tolerable during the standard year-long therapy.
Most experiences with Herceptin are much like Hidee Singer's. The 53-year-old Minnetonka, Minnesota, resident took Herceptin for a yearat first with Taxol (paclitaxel), a staple of many chemotherapy regimens, and then by itselfand felt fine except for a little fatigue. "I had no reservations about taking the drug," she says. "I had a fast-growing tumor and was told that cancer could return but that Herceptin would minimize that risk by 50%. Herceptin was probably the easiest part of my treatment."
Julie R. Gralow, MD, director of breast medical oncology at the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, cautions that heart trouble can be a side effect of taking Herceptin, especially if you take it along with certain chemotherapy drugs such as Adriamycin. Your doctor may want to test your heart before putting you on Herceptin and possibly also during the period that you remain on treatment.