Herceptin and Chemotherapy

Hello everyone,


I was wondering if anyone could offer any advice and information with regards to Herceptin. My mum had a mastectomy three weeks ago and has been told that the cancer was small and has thankfully been totally removed and hasn’t spread to her lymph nodes. However, her results came back as HER2 positive and she has been offered a course of Herceptin. She has been told she will have to start chemotherapy alongside it, as she cannot be treated with the Herceptin on its own. My mum is seventy and adamant that she doesn’t want to undergo the chemotherapy - the oncologist has told her she must at least start it in order to be given the Herceptin, and that if she becomes too ill they will stop the chemotherapy after a couple of sessions but continue with the Herceptin alone. From my point of view, the chemotherapy is surely not necessary if they are willing to stop it, and it seems as though they just have to tick the chemotherapy box in order for her to qualify for the Herceptin. Has anyone else experienced this? Apologies for being so long-winded! I’m just concerned that my mum will be subjecting herself to a totally unnecessary course of chemotherapy, when she isn’t in the best of health anyway, to justify her being given Herceptin.

Hi Apple-Eye, I’m sorry to hear about your mums diagnosis, glad she has you looking out for her. I wasn’t HER2+ but my understanding of it is that Herceptin is only licenced to be given with chemo, hence why the oncologist is insistent, unfortunately their hands will be tied and there doesn’t appear to be any choice in the matter. I’m sure someone in the know will be along soon to offer further information. Take care CC x

Thanks, chascat. It’s interesting to hear that, about the licencing side. And I think I will take Sam’s advice and contact the helpline. I’m finding it quite difficult to find any information on the subject that is relevant to my mum’s situation. I appreciate your replies xx

Hi I fully understand your concern about chemotherapy. After the recurrence & surgery I was told to have Herceptin and chemo. I was very apprehensive and did not want chemo, only Herceptin, because of the toxicity, but my oncologist explained that actually the chemo drug and Herceptin together has certain synergies to combat cancer much better, rather than chemo or Herceptin alone. To that explanation I then agreed to have them both. You are right that you do not need to complete the whole chemo cycles, but the first few cycles would kick start the drug synergy. I hope that helps.