What is a HER2 receptor?

HER2 (Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2) is a gene that can play a role in the development of breast cancer. HER2 proteins are receptors on breast cells. Extra HER2 genes tell breast cells to make too many HER2 receptors. This makes breast cells grow and divide in an uncontrolled way. The level of HER2 in your tumour helps your doctor to plan for your treatment options.(11, 12)

Treatment for HER2+ breast cancer

HER2+ breast cancer is usually treated with chemotherapy. In HER2+ breast cancer cases, monoclonal antibodies directed against HER2 receptors are usually added to the treatment regime to increase response and provide survival benefit for the patients.(9, 11, 16)

Examples of treatment choices for HER2+ breast cancer:

  • 1


    o This drug works against HER2+ breast cancer by blocking the ability of cancer cells to receive signals that tell the cells to grow.

    o There are a few brands available for trastuzumab such as Herceptin, Herzuma, Zuhera and Hertraz which are registered in Malaysia.

  • 2


    o Like trastuzumab it works against HER2+ breast cancers by blocking the cancer cells’ ability to receive growth signals.

    o There is only one brand known as Perjeta available in Malaysia currently.

  • 3

    Ado-trastuzumab emtansine (T-DM1)

    o This is a combination drug of Herceptin and a chemotherapy drug emtansine. It was designed to deliver emtansine to cancer cells in a targeted way by attaching emtansine to Herceptin. Herceptin then carries emtansine to the HER2+ cancer cells.

    o Example of the drug available in Malaysia is Kadcyla