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Is Perjeta a chemotherapy drug?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on Aug 28, 2020.

Official Answer

by Drugs.com
  • Perjeta (generic name: pertuzumab) is considered a targeted cancer therapy, which is different from chemotherapy.
  • Traditional chemotherapy kills cancer cells that grow and divide rapidly, and may also affect normal cells.
  • Targeted drug therapy like Perjeta attacks human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) proteins on certain cancer cells that cause rapid growth.
  • Normal cells have fewer HER2 proteins, but targeted therapy may affect them, too.

HER2+ breast cancer cells have too many HER2 receptors which can cause cells to grow and divide rapidly. Perjeta targets HER2 receptors to slow down rapid growth. However, fewer amounts of HER2 proteins can be found on healthy cells, too, which may lead to side effects, some of which can be serious.

Perjeta is approved to treat early or metastatic breast cancer and is a member of the HER2 inhibitors drug class. Perjeta is given with another targeted treatment called Herceptin (trastuzumab), which also targets HER2 receptors, but in a different way.

Bottom Line

  • Perjeta (pertuzumab) is considered a targeted cancer therapy, which is different from chemotherapy.
  • Chemotherapy works by killing rapidly growing cancer cells, but may also affect normal cells.
  • Perjeta attacks certain proteins on breast cancer cells that cause rapid growth. However, normal cells also have HER2 proteins (in fewer amounts), so targeted therapy may affect them, too, and possibly cause side effects.

This is not all the information you need to know about Perjeta for safe and effective use. Review the full Perjeta information here, and discuss this information with your doctor or other health care provider.

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