Stomach (gastric) cancer

Herceptin®

(trastuzumab)

Pronounced Her-cep-tin

Herceptin, also known as trastuzumab, has a number of medical uses and is registered by Medsafe for the treatment of patients with advanced stomach cancer.

How Herceptin works

Herceptin is an anti-cancer agent that works for people with advanced stomach cancer with high levels of the HER2 protein (HER2-positive).

Your doctor will test your cancer to find out whether you have this type of stomach cancer.

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.

Clinical trial data

The effectiveness of Herceptin in the treatment of people with advanced HER2-positive stomach cancer has been studied in clinical trials.

One of these studies showed that patients who were given Herceptin lived longer than patients who received chemotherapy alone. 

Remember, the results will not be the same for everyone. All medicines can have side effects. Sometimes they are serious, most of the time they are not.

For further information on Herceptin for the treatment of advanced gastric cancer, including side effects download the Herceptin Consumer Medicine Information here.

Ask your doctor for more information on the clinical trial results, and if Herceptin is right for you.

How to access Herceptin

Herceptin is not publicly funded by PHARMAC for the treatment of advanced stomach cancer. Therefore, you will need to access it at a private treatment centre, and you will need to fund the cost of treatment yourself. If you have health insurance, carefully check what is covered – every health insurance provider has different rules and benefits that cover cancer treatment, surgery, tests and appointments.

Roche has a Cost Share Programme to help with the cost of Herceptin. This programme is designed to help reduce the cost of medicine and caps the number of treatment cycles.

Ask your doctor if Herceptin is right for you and for details of the Cost Share Programme. You can also discuss getting a referral to a private treatment centre.

Ready to take the next step

All treatments need to be considered in line with your individual situation, and your doctor will determine whether Herceptin is the right treatment for you.

Talking to your doctor about Herceptin

We’ve put together a discussion guide to help you begin a conversation with your doctor about Herceptin. Print it off, take it along to your next appointment, and take notes in the spaces provided.

For further information about private treatment providers click here.

You can also talk to your current doctor about referral to a private doctor or treatment centre.

To learn more about how medicines become available in New Zealand, click here.

Handy resources

Herceptin Consumer Medicine Information
Click Here

Herceptin® (trastuzumab), 150mg and 440mg vials, is a Prescription Medicine used to treat patients with metastatic (spreading) cancer of the stomach who have tumours with a large amount of the HER2 protein. Stomach cancer is also known as gastric cancer. Do not use Herceptin if: you have had an allergic reaction to trastuzumab or any of the ingredients, benzyl alcohol, or to any medicines that are made using Chinese hamster ovary cells. Tell your doctor if: you have a history of coronary artery disease, poorly controlled high blood pressure, heart failure, arrhythmia (an abnormal or rapid heartbeat), angina (feeling pain, tightness, heaviness or pressure in the chest), or any other type of heart disease; you are currently taking any other medicines, including medicines for cancer, or if you have previously received chemotherapy treatment with medicines known as anthracyclines; you have breathing or lung problems; you are pregnant or breast-feeding, or plan to become pregnant or breast-feed. Tell your doctor immediately or go to your nearest Accident and Emergency Centre if you notice any of the following: swelling of your lips, face, tongue or throat with difficulty breathing; severe shortness of breath, difficulty breathing or wheezing; severe chest pain spreading out to the arms, neck, shoulder and/or back; rash, itching or hives on the skin; fever or chills; abnormal or irregular heartbeat; severe swelling of the hands, feet or legs; severe coughing. Possible common side effects may also include: getting tired more easily after light physical activity; shortness of breath, especially when lying down or if it disturbs your sleep; runny or blocked nose or nosebleeds; difficulty sleeping, anxiety or depression; confusion; weakness or soreness in muscles and/or joints; increased cough; feeling dizzy, tired, looking pale; flu and/or cold like symptoms,  frequent infections such as fever, severe chills, sore throat or mouth ulcers; hot flushes; diarrhoea; changes in weight (gain or loss); decrease in or loss of appetite; redness, dryness or peeling of the hands or feet; unusual hair loss or thinning; nail problems; eye problems such as producing more tears, swollen runny eyes or conjunctivitis (discharge with itching of the eyes and crusty eyelids). Herceptin has risks and benefits. Ask your Oncologist if Herceptin is right for you. Use strictly as directed. If symptoms continue or you have side effects, see your healthcare professional. For further information on Herceptin, please talk to your healthcare professional or visit  www.medsafe.govt.nz for Herceptin Consumer Medicine Information.

Herceptin is not funded by PHARMAC for the treatment of HER2-positive gastric cancer. You will need to pay the full cost of this medicine. A prescription charge and normal oncologist’s fees may apply.

Consumer panel dated 16.04.2019.