Targeted therapies are drugs that attack specific proteins on or within cancer cells which help the cells to grow. Targeted therapies do not affect healthy cells.
Targeted therapies are not appropriate for all women with secondary breast cancer. Around 10 to 15 per cent of women with secondary breast cancer have a cancer that is overloaded with a protein known as HER2. These cancers are known as HER2-positive and may respond to targeted therapies including Herceptin and Tykerb.
If you had an original breast cancer that wasn't tested for HER2, your doctor may test the original specimen or suggest a biopsy of your current tumour to determine its HER2 status.
What are the side effects?
Herceptin may cause heart problems in some women, which can be detected with heart tests before symptoms occur. Your medical oncologist will discuss any possible benefits and drawbacks of taking Herceptin as part of your treatment.
New targeted therapies are being developed and tested in clinical trials around the world.
The page on managing symptoms and side effects may be helpful.