The Who, What, Where, When and Sometimes, Why.

HER2-Targeted Therapies

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.

Testing for HER2 status

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.

HER2-targeted therapies

The table below lists the HER2-targeted therapies used to treat breast cancers.

Drug name

Brand name(s)

Used to treat early or metastatic breast cancer?

Pill, injection under the skin, or IV drug (given by vein through an IV)?

Trastuzumab*

Herceptin (IV drug), Herceptin Hylecta (injection)

Early and metastatic breast cancer

IV drug or injection

Pertuzumab

Perjeta

Early and metastatic breast cancer

IV drug

Pertuzumab, trastuzumab and hyaluronidase–zzxf

Phesgo

Early and metastatic breast cancer

Injection

Ado-trastuzumab emtansine (T-DM1)

Kadcyla

Early and metastatic breast cancer

IV drug

Fam-trastuzumab deruxtecan (trastuzumab deruxtecan)

Enhertu

Metastatic breast cancer

IV drug

Tucatinib

Tukysa

Metastatic breast cancer

Pill

Neratinib

Nerlynx

Early and metastatic breast cancer

Pill

Lapatinib

Tykerb

Metastatic breast cancer

Pill

*Biosimilar forms of trastuzumab include: trastuzumab-anns (Kanjinti), trastuzumab-dkst (Ogivri), trastuzumab-dttb (Ontruzant), trastuzumab-pkrb (Herzuma) and trastuzumab-qyyp (Trazimera).

HER2-targeted therapies and breast cancer treatment

Early and locally advanced breast cancer

Learn about HER2-targeted therapies for early and locally advanced breast cancer.

Neoadjuvant (before breast surgery) therapy

Learn about trastuzumab (Herceptin) and pertuzumab (Perjeta) as part of neoadjuvant treatment.

Metastatic breast cancer

Learn about trastuzumab, lapatinib (Tykerb) and other HER2-targeted therapies for metastatic breast cancer.

Treatment guidelines

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 

  • If you or a loved one needs more information about breast health or breast cancer, call the Komen Breast Care Helpline at 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636). All calls are answered by a trained specialist or oncology social worker in English and Spanish, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET. You can also email the helpline at helpline@komen.org.  
  • We offer an online support community through our closed Facebook Group – Komen Breast Cancer group. The Facebook group provides a place where those with a connection to breast cancer can discuss each other’s experiences and build strong relationships to provide support to each other. Visit Facebook and search for “Komen Breast Cancer group” to request to join the closed group.
  • Komen Affiliates offer breast health education and some fund breast cancer programs through local community organizations. Your local Affiliate may also help you find breast cancer resources in your area. Find your local Affiliate.
  • Our fact sheets, booklets and other education materials offer additional information.  

 

Prescription drug assistance

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.

Take action

Ask your U.S. representative to co-sponsor the Cancer Drug Parity Act.