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Trastuzumab, known more commonly as Herceptin, is a medicine used to treat some breast and stomach cancers. The human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 is a protein present in ordinary human cells. The levels of this protein are abnormally high in cancer patients; therefore they are known as HER2 positive[1]. However, not all cancer patients are HER2 positive, for example, only 25% of breast cancers have HER2 mutation. Herceptin attaches itself to the HER2 receptors on the surface of cancer cells; therefore blocking these cells from any growth signals they may have otherwise received. After this attachment, Herceptin causes the immune system to kill the cancer cells that it is attached to[2]. This treatment process is a type of targeted therapy (when a drug targets a specific gene or protein). It has a big impact in treating cancer: Herceptin helps to prevent relapse at an early stage of breast cancer and make patient's survival time longer if the stage is advanced. However, only targeted therapy is not enough in the whole treatment process, chemotherapy or radiology have to be used as well[3].


  1. NHS choices,2014, Herceptin.[online]Available at:[Accessed 25 November 2014]
  2. Breast Cancer Care,2014, Herceptin[online]Available at:[Accessed 25 November 2014]
  3. National Health Service. Herceptin (trastuzumab). 2016. (accessed 20 November 2017)
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