Breast Cancer Home > Perjeta Side Effects

Diarrhea, hair loss, and nausea were some of the most commonly reported side effects when Perjeta was given in combination with certain other medications during clinical trials. Research also showed that this prescription medication can cause potentially dangerous reactions. Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you develop serious complications, such as water retention, difficulty breathing, or vomiting.

An Introduction to Perjeta Side Effects

Just like any medicine, Perjeta™ (pertuzumab) can cause side effects. However, not everyone who uses the drug will have problems. In fact, most people tolerate it quite well. If side effects do occur, in most cases, they are minor and either require no treatment or are treated easily by you or your healthcare provider.
(This article covers many, but not all, of the possible side effects with Perjeta. Your healthcare provider can discuss a more complete list with you.)

Common Side Effects of Perjeta

Perjeta has been studied extensively in clinical trials. In these studies, the side effects that occurred in a group of people receiving the drug were documented and compared to those reactions that occurred in a group given Perjeta in combination with trastuzumab (Herceptin®) and docetaxel (Taxotere®) and a group who received trastuzumab, docetaxel, and a placebo (a product similar to Perjeta but without any active ingredients). As a result, it was possible to see how much Perjeta increased the risk of side effects.
In these studies, the most common side effects of the Perjeta/trastuzumab/docetaxel combination included:
  • Hair loss -- in up to 67 percent of people
  • Diarrhea -- up to 66.8 percent
  • Low neutrophils (a type of white blood cell) -- up to 64.9 percent
  • Nausea -- up to 42.3 percent
  • Fatigue -- up to 37.6 percent
  • Rash -- up to 33.7 percent
  • Unusual sensations like numbness, tingling, or pain in the hands or feet -- up to 32.4 percent.
It is important to understand that many of these side effects were due almost entirely to the other drugs (trastuzumab and docetaxel) rather than Perjeta. For instance, in one study, 60.9 percent of people taking all three drugs had hair loss; however, almost exactly as many people (60.5 percent) taking the two drugs without Perjeta experienced hair loss.
Other common side effects, occurring in 10 percent to 30 percent of people, included:
  • General weakness
  • Swelling and water retention in the hands, ankles, and feet
  • Inflammation in the mouth
  • Fever
  • Nail problems
  • Itching
  • Dry skin
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Mouth sores
  • Anemia
  • Low white blood cells
  • Headache
  • Distorted sense of taste
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Upper respiratory tract infections (like the common cold)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased tear production (watery eyes)
  • Insomnia.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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