Skip to main content

Is Kadcyla a chemotherapy drug? How does it work?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on July 27, 2021.

Official answer

  • Kadcyla is made up of two cancer-fighting medicines: a HER2-targeted drug treatment and a chemotherapy drug. It is used for the treatment of patients with HER2+ breast cancer.
  • Kadcyla is given as an intravenous (IV) infusion at a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital. When you receive Kadcyla, you are getting both medications at the same time.
  • Your doctor will determine if you are a candidate for Kadcyla treatment based on a specific test.

Targeted drug therapies find and attack specific types of cancer cells and may cause less damage to healthy cells. Common and serious side effects may still occur with targeted drug therapies.

How does Kadcyla work to kill cancer?

Cells grow and divide too fast In HER2+ breast cancer because they have too many HER2 receptors.

Kadcyla (ado-trastuzumab emtansine) is thought to work in this way:

  • Kadcyla finds and attaches to receptors on the outside of the HER2+ cells. Here it works by stopping cell growth and increasing the effect of the immune system to kill the cancer cells.
  • It also goes inside the cell and breaks apart to release the chemotherapy. The chemotherapy works inside the cell, causing the cell to die.
  • Kadcyla is known technically as a HER2-targeted antibody-drug conjugate.

Although Kadcyla is made to cause less harm to normal cells, it can still affect them. Kadcyla can cause serious and common side effects. Talk to your doctor about what side effects you may experience during treatment.

Learn more: What are common Kadcyla side effects?

This is not all the information you need to know about Kadcyla (ado-trastuzumab emtansine) for safe and effective use and does not take the place of talking to your doctor about your treatment. Review the full Kadcyla information here and discuss this information and any questions you have with your doctor or other health care provider.


Related medical questions

Drug information

Related support groups