Breast Cancer Home > Perjeta

As a type of biological therapy, Perjeta is prescribed in combination with other medications to treat certain types of breast cancer. It works by binding to certain receptors on the cancer cells and destroying the cells. Side effects may include diarrhea, nausea, and hair loss. This medication is administered intravenously by your healthcare provider, typically every three weeks.

What Is Perjeta?

Perjeta™ (pertuzumab) is a prescription medication used to treat breast cancer. It is only approved for certain types of breast cancer, and only in combination with certain other cancer medications; it should not be used alone.
(Click Perjeta Uses for more information on this topic, including possible off-label uses.)

Who Makes This Medication?

Perjeta is made by Genentech, Inc.

How Does Perjeta Work?

Perjeta is part of a group of medications called monoclonal antibodies. Monoclonal antibodies are used to treat a wide variety of conditions, including cancer. Perjeta is a special type of monoclonal antibody that is designed to bind to HER2, a protein on the outside of certain cancer cells.
When Perjeta binds to HER2 receptor proteins, it has several effects. It may interfere with the cancer cells' ability to grow and multiply. By binding to the HER2 receptor, the drug may also serve as a signal to the immune system, which can help destroy the cancer cells.
Perjeta is not a form of chemotherapy, at least in the traditional sense of the word. It is a biologic therapy, also known as biological therapy (see Biological Therapy for Breast Cancer). It is less "toxic" than chemotherapy, as it specifically targets the HER2 receptors. Because it is only used to treat cancers that have a high concentration of HER2 receptors, it targets the tumors, having less of an effect on healthy, noncancerous cells.
Before the medication can be prescribed to a particular person, certain tests must be performed to make sure that the tumor "overexpresses" HER2. When a cell makes a certain receptor or protein, it is said to "express" that receptor or protein. Tumor cells that overexpress HER2 have a high concentration of the HER2 receptor. Not all cancers overexpress HER2, and not all people with breast cancer will benefit from Perjeta.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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