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Is Enhertu a chemotherapy drug? What's Enhertu used for?

Medically reviewed by Melisa Puckey, BPharm. Last updated on Feb 15, 2021.

Does Enhertu cause hair loss? How is Enhertu given?

Official Answer

by Drugs.com

Is Enhertu a chemotherapy drug?


Yes, Enhertu (Fam-trastuzumab deruxtecan-nxki) is a chemo drug (chemotherapy) and it is also a targeted therapy anti-cancer drug.

Enhertu fights cancer in two ways:

  • the antibody (trastuzumab) part is designed to find and attach to the HER2 receptor on cancer cells
  • once attached to the receptor the chemotherapy (deruxtecan) part of it is released into the cancer cells which destroys the cancer cells and any surrounding cancer cells

Enhertu has been made by joining two different types of anti-cancer drugs together to make one drug called antibody-drug conjugate (ADC).

Deruxtecan section of Enhertu:

  • drug section
  • chemotherapy (Cytotoxic to cancer cells)
  • destroys the cancer cells and any surrounding cancer cells.

Trastuzumab section of Enhertu:

  • is a monoclonal antibody section
  • targeted therapy anti-cancer medicine
  • is designed to find and attach to the HER2 receptor on cancer cells.

What is Enhertu used for?

Breast Cancer:

Enhertu is used for breast cancer but only if the patient fits all three of these criteria.
To use Enhertu for breast cancer the patient must:

  • be an adult with breast cancer which is
  • unresectable or metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer and
  • have must have received two or more prior anti-HER2-based regimens in the metastatic setting

Gastric Cancer:

Enhertu is also used for a specific type of gastric cancer but only if the patient fulfills all of these criteria.
To use Enhertu for gastric cancer the patient must:

  • be an adult with HER2-positive gastric or gastroesophageal junction adenocarcinoma
  • the cancer must be locally advanced or metastatic
  • the patient must have previously been treated with a trastuzumab-based regimen.

How is Enhertu given?

Enhertu is given as an IV (intravenous) infusion every three weeks.

Does Enhertu cause hair loss?

One of the common side effects of Enhertu is hair loss
Hair loss was a common side effect of Enhertu with 46% of patients experiencing it.
For other side effects click here: Side effects of Enhertu

Does Enhertu have a boxed warning?

Enhertu has a boxed warning for two issues:

  • Interstitial lung disease
  • Embryo-Fetal Toxicity

For more information on these warnings click here: Boxed warning for Enhertu

Bottom line:

  • Enhertu is a chemo drug (chemotherapy) and it is also a targeted therapy anti-cancer drug.
  • Enhertu is an antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) which joins two different anti-cancer to form one anti-cancer drug
  • Enhertu can be used to treat specific adult breast cancer patients who fit the specific above criteria.
  • Enhertu can also be used to treat specific adult gastric cancer in adult patients who fit the specific criteria above.
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