Targeted Therapies

Advances in cancer treatment have seen the development of targeted therapies. These involve the use of medicines that specifically identify and attack cancer cells while minimising damage to normal cells. These can be an effective form of treatment for many cancers and are generally well tolerated.

Herceptin ® (trastuzumab) is a biologic anti-cancer agent that is approved in New Zealand for HER2-positive advanced gastric (stomach) cancer. Herceptin only works for people with a stomach cancer that has high levels of the HER2 protein. About 1 in 5 (20%) cases of stomach cancer are HER2-positive. The results of your biopsy will confirm whether your cancer cells have high levels of the HER2 protein.

Herceptin works by attaching to the HER2 proteins on the surface of the cancer cells which helps to stop the cancer cells from dividing and growing.

Talk to your doctor about whether Herceptin might be a suitable treatment for you. All medicines can have side effects. Sometimes they are serious, most of the time they are not.

Find out more about Herceptin, its benefits, its side-effects and costs here.