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Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy uses specific drugs that are known to target the specific proteins or enzymes that play a role in the growth of cancer cells. 

Herceptin (trastuzumab) is the best known of the targeted therapies and is used to treat HER2-positive breast cancer.

Other targeted therapies are available to treat HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer, including Perjeta, (pertuzumab), Kadcyla (T-DM1) and Tykerb (lapatinib).


Herceptin does not work for everyone. It is only useful for the treatment of HER2-positive breast cancer. About 15-20% of breast cancers are HER2-positive.

For women with early breast cancer that is HER2-positive, Herceptin is used with chemotherapy.

Side effects

Herceptin can cause heart problems in some women. This 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.

Perjeta, Kadcyla and Tykerb

Perjeta, Kadcyla and Tykerb are used to treat HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer. For more information visit our page on targeted therapies in metastatic breast cancer treatment.

More information

  • Join our online network if you think talking to others online and sharing experiences will help.
  • Comprehensive information on Herceptin is available in the Guide for women with early breast cancer, in BCNA's My Journey.
  • Cancer Australia has extensive information on Herceptin on their website