Pertuzumab (Generic Name)

Other Names: Perjeta®

About This Drug

Pertuzumab is a drug used to treat cancer. This drug is given intravenously (IV).

Possible Side Effects (More Common)

  • Reactions during the infusion: fever, chills, fatigue, headache, weakness, muscle aches, abnormal taste or vomiting.
  • Bone marrow depression, especially in combination with other anti-cancer therapies. This is a decrease in the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.
  • Effects on the heart: This drug can weaken the heart and decrease heart function. Your heart function will be checked as needed. You may have difficulty catching your breath, especially during activities. You may also have difficulty breathing while lying flat, and experience swelling in your ankles.
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Dizziness
  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Infection
  • Soreness of the mouth and throat
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Changes in the way food and beverages taste
  • Dry skin

Possible Side Effects (Less Common)

  • Severe allergic reactions to this drug are rare, but may occur in some patients.
  • Changes or infection in fingernails or toenails
  • Swelling of your legs, ankles, or feet
  • Numbness or tingling in fingers or toes
  • Heart failure: Your heart function will be checked as needed.
  • Hair loss (rare). Hair loss is more common if it is used in combination with other chemotherapy drugs that cause hair loss.

Allergic Reactions

While you are receiving this drug by IV, tell your nurse immediately if you have any of the following symptoms of an allergic reaction:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling like your tongue or throat is swelling
  • Rash or itching
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Feeling your heart bear rapidly (palpitations)

Reproductive Concerns

  • Pregnancy warning: This drug may have harmful effects on the unborn child, so effective methods of birth control should be used during your cancer treatment and for up to 6 months following treatment.
  • Genetic counseling is available to you to discuss the effects of this drug therapy on future pregnancies. In addition, a genetic counselor can review the potential risks of problems in the fetus due to this medication, if an exposure during pregnancy has occurred.
  • Breast feeding warning: It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk. For this reason, women are advised to discuss with their doctor the risks and benefits of breast feeding during treatment with this drug because this drug may enter the breast milk and seriously harm a breast-feeding infant.

Treating Side Effects

  • Drink 6 - 8 cups of fluids every day unless your doctor has told you to restrict your fluid intake. A cup is 8 ounces of fluid. If you vomit or have diarrhea, you should drink more fluids so that you do not become dehydrated.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse about medicine to help prevent or lessen nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, abdominal pain, bloating, or headache.
  • Mouth care is very important. Your mouth care should consist of regular, gentle cleaning of your teeth or dentures and rinsing your mouth with a mixture of ½ teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of water or ½ teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) in 8 ounces of water. This should be done at least after every meal and at bedtime.
  • If you have mouth sores, avoid mouthwash that contains alcohol. Avoid alcohol and smoking because they can irritate your mouth and throat.
  • Do not put anything on your rash unless your doctor or nurse says you may. Keep the area around the rash clean and dry. Ask your doctor or nurse to recommend a product for dry skin.

Food and Drug Interactions

There are no known interactions of pertuzumab with food. This drug may interact with other medications. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medications and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs and others) that you are currently taking. The safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements and alternative diets are often unknown. Using these might unexpectedly affect your cancer or interfere with your treatment. Until more is known, you should not use dietary supplements or alternative diets without your cancer doctor's advice.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or nurse immediately if you have any of the following:

  • Fever of 100.5 F (38 C) or above
  • Chills
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Rash or itching
  • Uncontrolled nausea that prevents you from eating or drinking
  • Vomiting more than three times a day
  • Diarrhea 4 times a day or diarrhea with weakness or lightheadedness
  • Severe headache
  • Confusion

Call your doctor or nurse as soon as possible if any of the following symptoms occur:

  • Numbness or tingling in hands or feet
  • Persistent loss of appetite or rapid weight loss (more than 5 pounds in 1 week)
  • Extreme weakness that interferes with normal activities
  • Muscle pain or weakness
  • Swelling of your legs, ankles, or feet

Revised January 2013

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