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Herceptin Side Effects

Generic Name: trastuzumab

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Sep 23, 2020.

Note: This document contains side effect information about trastuzumab. Some of the dosage forms listed on this page may not apply to the brand name Herceptin.

In Summary

Common side effects of Herceptin include: febrile neutropenia, infection, asthenia, dizziness, fever, headache, nausea, pain, skin rash, vomiting, abdominal pain, back pain, diarrhea, flu-like symptoms, insomnia, neutropenia, pharyngitis, rhinitis, chills, and anorexia. Other side effects include: urinary tract infection, anemia, arthralgia, depression, edema, ostealgia, paresthesia, sinusitis, and tachycardia. See below for a comprehensive list of adverse effects.

For the Consumer

Applies to trastuzumab: intravenous powder for solution


Intravenous route (Powder for Solution)

Administration of trastuzumab products can result in subclinical and clinical cardiac failure, with the greatest risk and severity upon concurrent administration with anthracyclines. Evaluate cardiac function prior to and during treatment. Discontinue trastuzumab-dkst in patients receiving adjuvant therapy and withhold trastuzumab-dkst for a clinically significant decrease in left ventricular function. Serious and fatal infusion reactions and pulmonary toxicity may occur during or within 24 hours after administration. Discontinue trastuzumab-dkst if signs of anaphylaxis, angioedema, interstitial pneumonitis, or acute respiratory distress syndrome are noted. Exposure during pregnancy can result in oligohydramnios, in some cases complicated by pulmonary hypoplasia, skeletal abnormalities, and neonatal death. Advise patients of these risks and the need for effective contraception.

Side effects requiring immediate medical attention

Along with its needed effects, trastuzumab (the active ingredient contained in Herceptin) may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor or nurse immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking trastuzumab:

More common

  • Black, tarry stools
  • bleeding gums
  • blood in the urine or stools
  • chest pain
  • chills
  • cough
  • cracked lips
  • decreased frequency or amount of urine
  • diarrhea
  • difficult or labored breathing
  • difficulty in swallowing
  • dry mouth
  • fever
  • headache
  • hoarseness
  • increased blood pressure
  • increased thirst
  • irregular heartbeat
  • loss of appetite
  • lower back or side pain
  • mood changes
  • muscle aches, pain, or cramps
  • nausea
  • numbness or tingling in the hands, feet, or lips
  • painful or difficult urination
  • pale skin
  • peeling of the skin
  • pinpoint red spots on the skin
  • seizures
  • sore throat
  • sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips, tongue, or inside the mouth
  • stuffy or runny nose
  • swelling of the face, fingers, or lower legs
  • swollen glands
  • tightness in the chest
  • troubled breathing
  • troubled breathing with exertion
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • vomiting
  • weight gain

Less common

  • Bladder pain
  • bloody nose
  • blurred vision
  • body aches or pain
  • burning or stinging of the skin
  • cloudy urine
  • dilated neck veins
  • dizziness
  • ear congestion
  • extreme tiredness or weakness
  • fainting
  • fast, irregular, pounding, or racing heartbeat or pulse
  • frequent urge to urinate
  • general feeling of discomfort or illness
  • irregular breathing
  • joint pain
  • loss of voice
  • nasal congestion
  • nervousness
  • pain or tenderness around the eyes and cheekbones
  • painful cold sores or blisters on the lips, nose, eyes, or genitals
  • pounding in the ears
  • shivering
  • sneezing
  • sweating
  • trouble sleeping


  • Chest discomfort
  • hives, itching, skin rash
  • joint stiffness or swelling
  • neck tenderness or swelling
  • redness of the skin
  • tightness in the chest

Side effects not requiring immediate medical attention

Some side effects of trastuzumab may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects.

Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common

  • Burning, crawling, itching, numbness, prickling, "pins and needles", or tingling feelings
  • difficulty in moving
  • feeling of warmth
  • muscle stiffness
  • redness of the face, neck, arms and occasionally, upper chest
  • sudden sweating

Less common

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to trastuzumab: intravenous powder for injection


The most common adverse events were fever, nausea, vomiting, infusion reactions, diarrhea, infections, increased cough, headache, fatigue, dyspnea, rash, neutropenia, anemia, stomatitis, weight loss, thrombocytopenia, mucosal inflammation, nasopharyngitis, dysgeusia, and myalgia.[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Neutropenia (78%), leukopenia (52%), anemia (36%), febrile neutropenia (23%), thrombocytopenia (16%)

Frequency not reported: Hypoprothrombinemia[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): LVEF decrease (44%), congestive heart failure (28%), cardiomyopathy (15%), peripheral edema (10%), tachycardia (10%)

Common (1% to 10%): Hypertension, hypotension, asymptomatic cardiac dysfunction, ejection fraction decreased, palpitation, cardiac arrhythmia, cardiac failure, heart beat irregular, cardiac flutter, lymphedema, hot flush, thrombotic adverse event, supraventricular tachyarrhythmia, vasodilation

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Ventricular dysfunction, pericardial effusion

Frequency not reported: Cardiogenic shock, pericarditis, bradycardia, gallop rhythm present, S3 gallop[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Infusion-related reactions (54%)

Common (1% to 10%): Hypersensitivity, allergic reaction

Frequency not reported: Anaphylactic reaction, anaphylactic shock[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Cough (43%), dyspnea (42%), rhinitis (22%), Grade 2 to 5 pulmonary toxicity (14%), nasopharyngitis (13%), wheezing, epistaxis, rhinorrhea

Common (1% to 10%): Pharyngolaryngeal pain, sinusitis, epistaxis, upper respiratory infection, rhinitis, asthma, lung disorder, pleural effusion

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Pulmonary infiltrates, pulmonary hypertension, interstitial pneumonitis

Frequency not reported: Pulmonary insufficiency, pulmonary fibrosis, respiratory distress, respiratory failure, lung infiltration, acute pulmonary edema, acute respiratory distress syndrome, bronchospasm, hypoxia, oxygen saturation decreased, laryngeal edema, pulmonary edema, orthopnea

Postmarketing reports: Bronchospasm, hypoxia, pleural effusions, non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Infection (47%), herpes simplex (38%), antibody to trastuzumab (the active ingredient contained in Herceptin) (15%), flu syndrome (12%)

Common (1% to 10%): Neutropenic sepsis, postoperative wound infection, herpes zoster

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Sepsis[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Renal impairment/failure (18%)

Common (1% to 10%): Grade 3 or 4 renal failure, renal disorder, hyperbilirubinemia

Frequency not reported: Glomerulonephritis membranous, glomerulonephropathy, renal failure

Postmarketing reports: Nephrotic syndrome with pathological evidence of glomerulopathy[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Nausea (76%), vomiting (53%), diarrhea (45%), abdominal pain (34%), stomatitis (24%), anorexia (14%)

Common (1% to 10%): Constipation, dyspepsia, dysphagia, lip swelling, pancreatitis, hemorrhoids, dry mouth[Ref]

Nervous system

Very common (10% or more): Headache (44%), asthenia (42%), fatigue (35%), insomnia (29%), dizziness (24%), paresthesia (23%), peripheral neuritis (23%), neuropathy (13%), dysgeusia (10%), dizziness (13%), tremor, hypoesthesia

Common (1% to 10%): Hypertonia, somnolence, ataxia

Rare (less than 0.1%): Paresis

Frequency not reported: Brain edema[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Rash (38%), nail changes (12%), acne (11%), rash/desquamation (11%), erythema, swelling face, palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia syndrome, alopecia

Common (1% to 10%): Pruritus, dry skin, ecchymosis, hyperhidrosis, maculopapular rash, onychoclasis, dermatitis, contusion, skin infection, erysipelas, cellulitis

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Urticaria

Frequency not reported: Angioedema[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Arthralgia (37%), back pain (34%), bone pain (24%), muscle tightness, myalgia

Common (1% to 10%): Muscle spasm, neck pain, pain in extremity, arthritis[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Anorexia (31%), hypokalemia (28%), weight loss (23%)

Frequency not reported: Hyperkalemia

Postmarketing reports: Volume overload[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Asthenia (62%), pain (61%), fever (56%), chills (41%), accidental injury (13%)

Common (1% to 10%): Malaise

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Deafness

Rare (less than 0.1%): Sudden death

Postmarketing reports: Oligohydramnios or oligohydramnios sequence (including pulmonary hypoplasia, skeletal abnormalities, and neonatal death)[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Hepatocellular injury, hepatitis, liver tenderness

Rare (less than 0.1%): Jaundice

Frequency not reported: Hepatic failure[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Conjunctivitis, lacrimation increased

Common (1% to 10%): Dry eye

Frequency not reported: Papilledema, retinal hemorrhage[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Breast inflammation/mastitis, urinary tract infection, cystitis[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Depression (20%), insomnia (14%)

Common (1% to 10%): Anxiety, thinking abnormal

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Depression[Ref]


Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Autoimmune thyroiditis[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Malignant neoplasm progression, neoplasm progression[Ref]


1. Cerner Multum, Inc. "UK Summary of Product Characteristics." O 0

2. "Product Information. Ogivri (trastuzumab)." Mylan GmbH, Morgantown, WV.

3. Cerner Multum, Inc. "Australian Product Information." O 0

4. "Product Information. Herceptin (trastuzumab)." Genentech, South San Francisco, CA.

Frequently asked questions

Further information

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

Some side effects may not be reported. You may report them to the FDA.