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Ado-trastuzumab emtansine

Generic name: ado-trastuzumab emtansine [ AY-doe-tras-TOOZ-ue-mab-em-TAN-seen ]
Brand name: Kadcyla
Dosage form: intravenous powder for injection (100 mg; 160 mg)
Drug class: HER2 inhibitors

Medically reviewed by on Nov 15, 2022. Written by Cerner Multum.

What is ado-trastuzumab emtansine?

Ado-trastuzumab emtansine is used to treat a HER2-positive breast cancer. ado-trastuzumab emtansine is used both for early breast cancer and for breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body (metastatic).

Ado-trastuzumab emtansine is usually given after other treatments have failed.

Kadcyla (ado-trastuzumab) should not be used in place of Herceptin (trastuzumab).

Ado-trastuzumab emtansine may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.


Do not use if you are pregnant. Use effective birth control, and tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment.

This medicine can cause serious side effects on your liver or heart. Call your doctor at once if you have upper stomach pain, loss of appetite, dark urine, yellowing of your skin or eyes, shortness of breath, cough, swelling, rapid weight gain, fast or pounding heartbeats, dizziness, or if you feel like you might pass out.

Before taking this medicine

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

You may need to have a negative pregnancy test before starting this treatment.

Ado-trastuzumab emtansine can harm an unborn baby if the mother or the father is using ado-trastuzumab emtansine.

  • If you are a woman, do not use ado-trastuzumab emtansine if you are pregnant. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy while you are using this medicine and for at least 7 months after your last dose.

  • If you are a man, use effective birth control if your sex partner is able to get pregnant. Keep using birth control for at least 4 months after your last dose.

  • Tell your doctor right away if a pregnancy occurs while either the mother or the father is using ado-trastuzumab emtansine.

Do not breastfeed while using this medicine, and for at least 7 months after your last dose.

How is ado-trastuzumab emtansine given?

Ado-trastuzumab emtansine is given as an infusion into a vein. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

This medicine must be given slowly, and the infusion can take 30 to 90 minutes to complete.

Tell your caregivers if you feel any burning, pain, or swelling around the IV needle when ado-trastuzumab emtansine is injected.

Ado-trastuzumab emtansine is usually given once every 3 weeks. Your doctor will determine how long to treat you.

You may need frequent medical tests to be sure this medicine is not causing harmful effects. Your cancer treatments may be delayed based on the results.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Call your doctor for instructions if you miss an appointment for your ado-trastuzumab emtansine injection.

What happens if I overdose?

Since this medication is given by a healthcare professional in a medical setting, an overdose is unlikely to occur.

What should I avoid while receiving ado-trastuzumab emtansine?

Avoid activities that may increase your risk of bleeding or injury. Use extra care to prevent bleeding while shaving or brushing your teeth.

Ado-trastuzumab emtansine side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Some side effects may occur during the injection. Tell your caregiver right away if you feel cold, light-headed, feverish or sweaty, or have chest tightness, rapid heartbeats, or trouble breathing.

Ado-trastuzumab emtansine may cause serious side effects. Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • easy bruising, unusual bleeding, purple or red spots under your skin;

  • coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds;

  • bloody or tarry stools;

  • chest pain, wheezing, dry cough;

  • unusual tiredness, feeling light-headed;

  • pale skin, cold hands and feet;

  • numbness, tingling, or burning pain in your hands or feet;

  • sudden numbness or weakness (especially on one side of the body), severe headache, slurred speech, balance problems;

  • heart problems--swelling in your lower legs, rapid weight gain, feeling short of breath, cough, fast or pounding heartbeat, dizziness, feeling like you might pass out;

  • liver problems--loss of appetite, stomach pain (upper right side), dark urine, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes); or

  • signs of tumor cell breakdown--confusion, weakness, muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, fast or slow heart rate, decreased urination, tingling in your hands and feet or around your mouth.

Your cancer treatments may be delayed or permanently discontinued if you have certain side effects.

Common side effects of ado-trastuzumab emtansine may include:

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Ado-trastuzumab emtansine dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Breast Cancer:

3.6 mg/kg IV every 3 weeks (21-day cycle) until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity
Maximum dose: 3.6 mg/kg IV every 3 weeks

-Administer the first infusion over 90 minutes. Subsequent infusions may be administered over 30 minutes as tolerated.
-Observe patients during and for at least 90 minutes following the initial dose for fever, chills, or other infusion-related reactions.
-Patients should have a HER2 positive tumor status confirmed prior to starting therapy.
-Do not substitute trastuzumab emtansine for or with trastuzumab.
-If a planned dose is delayed or missed, it should be administered as soon as possible; do not wait until the next planned cycle.

Use: As a single agent, for HER2-positive, metastatic breast cancer in patients who previously received trastuzumab and a taxane, separately or in combination; patients should have either:
-Received prior therapy for metastatic disease
-Developed disease recurrence during or within 6 months of completing adjuvant therapy

What other drugs will affect ado-trastuzumab emtansine?

Sometimes it is not safe to use certain medications at the same time. Some drugs can affect your blood levels of other drugs you take, which may increase side effects or make the medications less effective.

Other drugs may affect ado-trastuzumab emtansine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.

Popular FAQ

For HER2+ early-stage breast cancer, Kadcyla is given as an intravenous (IV) injection every 3 weeks for a total of 14 cycles. For HER2+ metastatic breast cancer that has spread, Kadcyla is given once every 3 weeks on an ongoing basis. In both cases, you may need to stop treatment if the cancer returns or the side effects are intolerable. Continue reading

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. When you receive Kadcyla, you are getting both medications at the same time. Continue reading

More FAQ

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.