HER2+ but can't have Epirubicin

I had ER+ breast cancer 10 years ago and had a lumpectomy then 6 cycles of FEC-T (Fluorouracil, Epirubicin and Cyclophosphamide, then Taxotere). Successfully discharged :blush:and got on with living.

Fast forward 10 years and I now have (a different) cancer in the other breast :roll_eyes: - ER/PR- but HER2+. My oncologist told me that there is a lifetime limit to how much Epirubicin we can have - but he said because I only had 3 cycles last time it should be okay to have it again. So I was put on 3 x 3 weekly cycles of EC then 9 cycles of Paclitaxel (weekly) alongside Herceptin.

Had my PICC line insertion today and was all fired up to go in the morning for cycle 1 - but got a call from the combined day unit this evening to say could I come in in the afternoon instead, because the pharmacy aren’t happy that I have been put on Epirubicin and they need time to recalculate the dose or look at alternative treatment.

Does this make sense? what other drug might I have instead of EC? Should I be worried?


Hi hopefulheart

Thanks for posting.

It sounds as though you’ve been given some difficult information and it’s understandable that you’re concerned.

EC chemotherapy is a combination of two drugs used in breast cancer treatment. One of these drugs, Epirubicin, can affect the way the heart works and so there is a maximum lifetime dose which may be safely used. It sounds as though your oncologist and pharmacist are being careful to ensure that you don’t exceed this dose as the risk of the treatment may then exceed the benefit. It may be that you would be able to have a reduced dose but still receive the other drugs as part of your treatment plan or the pharmacist will be able to suggest an alternative for you.

I wonder if it might be easier to call us on our helpline and talk this through or if you have any further questions. The helpline team have time to listen, talk things through and signpost you to more support and information if necessary. Your call will be confidential, and the number is free from UK landlines and all mobile networks. The number is 0808 800 6000, (Relay UK -prefix 18001).

We offer a range of free supportive services for anyone who has had a diagnosis of breast cancer which you may be interested in. They include face to face and online courses and events.

If you would prefer one of our nurses to call you. To do this, please complete this form ticking the box agreeing to a call back.

Our usual opening hours are Monday to Friday 9am - 4pm and 9am -1pm on Saturday.

Out of hours you can leave a message and we will call you back when we next open.

Best wishes


Breast Care Nurse

Please read the Ask Our Nurses disclaimer Full details on how we collect and use your data can be found in our Privacy Policy

As we are unable to monitor for further replies, this thread will now be closed. If you have any additional questions or would like to provide feedback, please start a new thread, call our helpline, email us or request a call back.