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Chemotherapy and other systemic treatment regimens may change due to COVID-19. Find out more at Systemic Treatment Regimens During COVID-19.

PERTuzumab

( per-TOO-zoo-mab )
Funding:
New Drug Funding Program
  • Pertuzumab-Trastuzumab - Unresectable Locally Recurrent or Metastatic - Breast Cancer
Other Name(s): Perjeta®
Appearance: clear, colourless solution

Medication Information Sheet
PERTuzumab (per-TOO-zoo-mab)
This document provides general information about your medication. It does not replace the advice of your health care professional. Always discuss your therapy with your health care professional and refer to the package insert for more details.

Other Name: Perjeta®

Appearance:
clear, colourless solution

What is this medication for?
  • For treating certain types of breast cancer.
     
  • Pertuzumab is usually given along with other medications to treat cancer.
What should I do before I have this medication?
  • Tell your health care team if you have or had significant medical condition(s), especially if you have / had:

    • heart problems (including irregular heartbeat, heart attack, heart failure or uncontrolled high blood pressure) or

    • any allergies

  • Tell your health care team if you have been treated with chemotherapy drugs known as anthracyclines (such as doxorubicin, epirubicin), mitoxantrone, or radiation therapy.
     
  • Your health care team may do tests to examine your heart function before starting treatment. This is done to make sure it is safe for you to receive pertuzumab.

 

Remember to:

  • Tell your health care team about all of the other medications you are taking.

  • Keep taking other medications that have been prescribed for you, unless you have been told not to by your health care team.

How will this medication affect sex, pregnancy and breastfeeding?

Talk to your health care team about:

  • How this treatment may affect your sexual health.

  • Symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness or changes in your mood, if this applies to you.

  • How this treatment may affect your ability to have a baby, if this applies to you.
     

This treatment may harm an unborn baby. Tell your health care team if you or your partner are pregnant, become pregnant during treatment, or are breastfeeding.

  • If there is any chance of pregnancy happening, you and your partner together must use 2 effective forms of birth control at the same time until 7 months after your last treatment dose. Talk to your health care team about which birth control options are best for you.
     

  • Do not use hormonal birth control (such as birth control pills), unless your health care team told you that they are safe. Talk to your health care team about the safest birth control for you.
     

  • Do not breastfeed while on this treatment.

How is this medication given?
  • This drug is given through an IV (injected into a vein) . Talk to your health care team about your treatment schedule.

  • This drug will be given over a longer period of time for the first cycle. If you have no problems with this infusion, it will be given over a shorter time for the following cycles.

  • You may be given this treatment along with other medications to help prevent side effects or prevent a reaction. 
     

  • If you missed your treatment appointment, talk to your health care team to find out what to do.

What else do I need to know while on this medication?
  • Will this medication interact with other medications or natural health products?

    • Although this medication is unlikely to interact with other medications, vitamins, foods and natural health products, tell your health care team about all of your:

      • prescription and over-the-counter (non-prescription) medications and all other drugs, such as marijuana (medical or recreational)

      • natural health products such as vitamins, herbal teas, homeopathic medicines, and other supplements

    • Check with your health care team before starting or stopping any of them.

  • What should I do if I feel unwell, have pain, a headache or a fever?

    • Always check your temperature to see if you have a fever before taking any medications for fever or pain (such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Advil®)).

      • Fever can be a sign of infection that may need treatment right away.

      • If you take these medications before you check for fever, they may lower your temperature and you may not know you have an infection.
         

    How to check for fever:

    Keep a digital (electronic) thermometer at home and take your temperature if you feel hot or unwell (for example, chills, headache, mild pain).

    • You have a fever if your temperature taken in your mouth (oral temperature) is:
       
      • 38.3°C (100.9°F) or higher at any time

        OR
         
      • 38.0°C (100.4°F) or higher for at least one hour.


    If you do have a fever:

    • Try to contact your health care team. If you are not able to talk to them for advice, you MUST get emergency medical help right away.
    • Ask your health care team for the Fever pamphlet for more information. 
       

    If you do not have a fever but have mild symptoms such as headache or mild pain:

    • Ask your health care team about the right medication for you. Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) is a safe choice for most people.

    • Talk to your health care team before you start taking Ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®), naproxen (Aleve®) or ASA (Aspirin®), as they may increase your chance of bleeding or interact with your cancer treatment.

    • Talk to your health care team if you already take low dose aspirin for a medical condition (such as a heart problem). It may still be safe to take.
       

What to DO while on this medication:

  • DO check with your health care team before getting any vaccinations, surgery, dental work or other medical procedures.
     

  • DO consider asking someone to drive you to and from the hospital on your treatment days. You may feel dizzy after your treatment.
     

  • DO talk to your health care team about your risk of getting heart problems after this treatment.

     

What NOT to DO while on this medication:

  • DO NOT smoke or drink alcohol while on treatment without talking to your health care team first. Smoking and drinking can make side effects worse and make your treatment not work as well.

What are the side effects of this medication?

The following table lists side effects that you may have when getting pertuzumab.  Pertuzumab is usually given along with other medications to treat cancer; some of the side effects listed below may be due to those other medications.  The table is set up to list the most common side effects first and the least common last. It is unlikely that you will have all of the side effects listed and you may have some that are not listed.

Read over the side effect table so that you know what to look for and when to get help. Refer to this table if you experience any side effects while on pertuzumab.

Very Common Side Effects (50 or more out of 100 people)
Side effects and what to do When to contact health care team

Diarrhea

(May be severe)

What to look for?

  • Loose, watery, unformed stool (poo) that may happen days to weeks after you get your treatment.
     

What to do?

If you have diarrhea:

  • Take anti-diarrhea medication if your health care team prescribed it or told you to take it.
  • Do not eat foods or drinks with artificial sweetener (like chewing gum or ‘diet’ drinks), coffee and alcohol.
  • Eat many small meals and snacks instead of 2 or 3 large meals.
  • Drink at least 6 to 8 cups of liquids each day, unless your health care team has told you to drink more or less.
  • Talk to your health care team if you can’t drink 6 to 8 cups of liquids each day when you have diarrhea. You may need to drink special liquids with salt and sugar, called Oral Rehydration Therapy.
  • Talk to your health care team if your diarrhea does not improve after 24 hours of taking diarrhea medication or if you have diarrhea more than 7 times in one day.


Ask your health care team for the Diarrhea pamphlet for more information.

Talk to your health care team if no improvement after 24 hours of taking diarrhea medication or if severe (more than 7 times in one day)

Nausea and vomiting

(Generally mild)

What to look for?

  • Nausea is feeling like you need to throw up. You may also feel light-headed.
  • You may feel nausea within hours to days after your treatment.
     

What to do?

To help prevent nausea:

  • It is easier to prevent nausea than to treat it once it happens.
  • Take your anti-nausea medication(s) as prescribed, even if you do not feel like throwing up.
  • Drink clear liquids and have small meals. Get fresh air and rest.
  • Do not eat spicy, fried foods or foods with a strong smell.
  • Limit caffeine (like coffee, tea) and avoid alcohol.


If you have nausea or vomiting:

  • Take your rescue (as-needed) anti-nausea medication(s) as prescribed.
  • Ask your health care team for the Nausea & Vomiting pamphlet for more information.
  • Talk to your health care team if:
    • nausea lasts more than 48 hours
    • vomiting lasts more than 24 hours or if it is severe
Talk to your health care team if nausea lasts more than 48 hours or vomiting lasts more than 24 hours or if severe

 

Common Side Effects (25 to 49 out of 100 people)
Side effects and what to do When to contact health care team

Fatigue 

What to look for?

  • Feeling of tiredness or low energy that lasts a long time and does not go away with rest or sleep.
     

What to do?

  • Be active. Aim to get 30 minutes of moderate exercise (you are able to talk comfortably while exercising) on most days.
  • Check with your health care team before starting any new exercise.
  • Pace yourself, do not rush. Put off less important activities. Rest when you need to.
  • Ask family or friends to help you with things like housework, shopping, and child or pet care.
  • Eat well and drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water or other liquids every day (unless your health care team has told you to drink more or less).
  • Avoid driving or using machinery if you are feeling tired.

Ask your health care team for the Fatigue pamphlet for more information. 

Talk to your health care team if it does not improve or if it is severe

Mouth sores

What to look for?

  • Round, painful, white or gray sores inside your mouth that can occur on the tongue, lips, gums, or inside your cheeks.
  • In more severe cases they may make it hard to swallow, eat or brush your teeth.
  • They may last for 3 days or longer.


What to do?

To help prevent mouth sores: 

  • Take care of your mouth by gently brushing and flossing regularly.
  • Rinse your mouth often with a homemade mouthwash.
  • To make a homemade mouthwash, mix 1 teaspoonful of baking soda and 1 teaspoonful of salt in 4 cups (1L) of water.
  • Do not use store-bought mouthwashes, especially those with alcohol, because they may irritate your mouth.


If you have mouth sores:

  • Avoid hot, spicy, acidic, hard or crunchy foods.
  • Your doctor may prescribe a special mouthwash to relieve mouth sores and prevent infection.
  • Talk to your health care team as soon as you notice mouth or lip sores or if it hurts to eat, drink or swallow.

Ask your health care team for the Oral Care (Mouth Care) pamphlet for more information.

Talk to your health care team as soon as you notice mouth or lip sores or if it hurts to eat, drink or swallow

Low neutrophils (white blood cells) in the blood (neutropenia)

(May be severe)

When neutrophils are low, you are at risk of getting an infection more easily. Ask your health care team for the Neutropenia (Low white blood cell count) pamphlet for more information.

What to look for?

  • If you feel hot or unwell (for example if you have chills or a new cough), you must check your temperature to see if you have a fever.
  • Do not take medications that treat a fever before you take your temperature (for example, Tylenol®, acetaminophen, Advil® or ibuprofen).
  • Do not eat or drink anything hot or cold right before taking your temperature.

You have a fever if your temperature taken in your mouth (oral temperature) is:

  • 38.3°C (100.9°F) or higher at any time

    OR

  • 38.0°C (100.4°F) or higher for at least one hour

What to do?

If your health care team has told you that you have low neutrophils:

  • Wash your hands often to prevent infection.
  • Check with your health care team before getting any vaccines, surgeries, medical procedures or visiting your dentist.
  • Keep a digital thermometer at home so you can easily check for a fever.

 

If you have a fever:

If you have a fever, try to contact your health care team. If you are unable to talk to the team for advice, you must get emergency medical help right away.

If you have a fever, try to contact your health care team. If you are unable to talk to the team for advice, you MUST get emergency medical help right away.

Low platelets in the blood

(May be severe)

When your platelets are low, you are at risk for bleeding and bruising. Ask your health care team for the Low Platelet Count pamphlet for more information.
 

What to look for?

  • Watch for signs of bleeding:
    • bleeding from your gums
    • unusual or heavy nosebleeds
    • bruising easily or more than normal
    • black coloured stools (poo) or blood in your stools (poo)
    • coughing up red or brown coloured mucus
    • dizziness, constant headache or changes in your vision
    • heavy vaginal bleeding
    • red or pink coloured urine (pee)

 

What to do?

If your health care team has told you that you have low platelets:

  • Tell your pharmacist that your platelet count may be low before taking any prescriptions or over-the-counter medication.
  • Check with your healthcare team before you go to the dentist.
  • Take care of your mouth and use a soft toothbrush.
  • Try to prevent cuts and bruises.
  • Ask your health care team what activities are safe for you.
  • Your treatment may have to be delayed if you have low platelets. Your health care team may recommend a blood transfusion.
     

If you have signs of bleeding:

  • If you have a small bleed, clean the area with soap and water or a saline (saltwater) rinse. Apply pressure for at least 10 minutes.
     

If you have bleeding that does not stop or is severe (very heavy), you must get emergency medical help right away.

 

Talk to your health care team if you have any signs of bleeding. If you have bleeding that doesn’t stop or is severe (very heavy), you MUST get emergency help right away.

Rash; dry, itchy skin

What to look for?

  • You may have cracked, rough, flaking or peeling areas of the skin.
  • Your skin may look red and feel warm, like a sunburn.
  • Your skin may itch, burn, sting or feel very tender when touched.
  • The rash may be seen in areas where you have had radiation before.
     

What to do?

To prevent and treat dry skin:

  • Use fragrance-free skin moisturizer.
  • Protect your skin from the sun and the cold.
  • Use sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection and a SPF of at least 30.
  • Avoid perfumed products and lotions that contain alcohol.
  • Drink 6 to 8 cups of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated liquids each day, unless your health care team has told you to drink more or less.

Rash may be severe in some rare cases and cause your skin to blister or peel. If this happens, get emergency medical help right away.

Talk to your health care team if no improvement or if severe

Taste changes

What to look for?

  • Food and drinks may taste different than usual.
     

What to do?

  • Eat foods that are easy to chew, such as scrambled eggs, pasta, soups, cooked vegetables.
  • Taste foods at different temperatures, since the flavour may change.
  • Try different forms of foods, like fresh, frozen or canned.
  • Experiment with non-spicy foods, spices and seasonings.
Talk to your health care team if it does not improve or if it is severe

 

 

Less Common Side Effects (10 to 24 out of 100 people)
Side effects and what to do When to contact health care team

Low appetite

What to look for?

  • Loss of interest in food or not feeling hungry.
  • Weight loss.


What to do?

  • Try to eat your favourite foods.
  • Eat small meals throughout the day.
  • You may need to take meal supplements to help keep your weight up.
  • Talk to your health care team if you have no appetite.

Ask your health care team for the Loss of Appetite pamphlet for more information.

Talk to your health care team if it does not improve or if it is severe

Allergic reaction

What to look for?

  • Fever, itchiness, rash, swollen lips, face or tongue, chest and throat tightness.
  • It may happen during or shortly after your treatment is given to you and may be severe.
  • You may be given medicines to prevent or treat this reaction.


What to do?

  • Tell your nurse right away if you feel any signs of allergic reaction during or just after your treatment.
  • Talk to your health care team for advice if you have a mild skin reaction.
Get emergency medical help right away for severe symptoms

Neuropathy (Tingling, numb toes or fingers)

What to look for?

  • Numbness or tingling of your fingers and toes may happen after starting your treatment. 
  • Sometimes it can be painful and feel like burning sensation, which may be severe.

 

 

What to do?

  • Talk to your health care team if you have symptoms of neuropathy.
  • Numbness and tingling may slowly get better after your treatment ends.

In rare cases, it may continue long after treatment ends. If you continue to have bothersome symptoms, talk to your health care team for advice.

Talk to your health care team, especially if you have trouble doing tasks like doing up buttons, writing, moving, severe pain or numbness

Cough and feeling short of breath

What to look for?

  • You may have a cough and feel short of breath.
  • Symptoms that commonly occur with a cough are:
    • wheezing or a whistling breathing
    • runny nose
    • sore throat
    • heartburn
    • weight loss
    • fever and chills
  • Rarely this may be severe with chest pain, trouble breathing or coughing up blood.
     

What to do?

  • Check your temperature to see if you have a fever. Read the above section "What should I do if I feel unwell, have pain, a headache or a fever?".
  • If you have a fever, try to talk to your health care team. If you are not able to talk to them for advice, you MUST get emergency medical help right away.
  • If you have a severe cough with chest pain, trouble breathing or you are coughing up blood, get medical help right away.
Talk to your health care team. If you are not able to talk to your health care team for advice, and you have a fever or severe symptoms, you MUST get emergency medical help right away

Pains or cramps in the belly

What to look for?

  • Pain or cramps in your belly.
  • Constipation and diarrhea can cause pain in your belly.


What to do?

  • If the pain is severe, gets worse or doesn’t go away, talk to your health care team about other possible causes.
Talk to your health care team if it does not improve or if it is severe

High blood pressure

What to look for?

  • There are usually no signs of high blood pressure.
  • Rarely, you may have headaches, shortness of breath or nosebleeds.
     

What to do?

  • Check your blood pressure regularly.
  • Your doctor may prescribe medication to treat high blood pressure.

If you have a severe headache get emergency help right away as it may be a sign your blood pressure is too high.

Talk to your health care team if it does not improve or if it is severe

 

Other rare, but serious side effects are possible.
If you experience ANY of the following, speak to your cancer health care provider or get emergency medical help right away:

  • irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, chest pain, fainting spells or swelling in your legs, ankle and belly
  • lower back pain, pee less than usual, body swelling
  • severe muscle spasms, cramping, weakness, or twitching, seizures

 

Who do I contact if I have questions or need help?          

My cancer health care provider is: ______________________________________________

During the day I should contact:________________________________________________

Evenings, weekends and holidays:______________________________________________

 

 

 

 

Other Notes:

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March 2021 Updated/Revised info sheet

For more links on how to manage your symptoms go to www.cancercareontario.ca/symptoms.

The information set out in the medication information sheets, regimen information sheets, and symptom management information (for patients) contained in the Drug Formulary (the "Formulary") is intended to be used by health professionals and patients for informational purposes only. The information is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, drug interactions or side effects of a certain drug, nor should it be used to indicate that use of a particular drug is safe, appropriate or effective for a given condition.

A patient should always consult a healthcare provider if he/she has any questions regarding the information set out in the Formulary. The information in the Formulary is not intended to act as or replace medical advice and should not be relied upon in any such regard. All uses of the Formulary are subject to clinical judgment and actual prescribing patterns may not follow the information provided in the Formulary.