Biological therapy for breast cancer uses the body's immune system or hormonal system to treat cancer cells. This causes less harm to healthy cells: Side effects from biological therapy aren’t as bad as from better-known treatments like chemotherapy.
One type of biological therapy uses antibodies to attack cancer cells or block them from growing. Antibodies are a part of the immune system made by special white blood cells. They can also be made in a lab and given as medicine.
"You have breast cancer."
This year, nearly 250,000 women in the U.S. will hear those words.
Last year, Zunilda Guzman was one of them.
"I was devastated," says Guzman, 39. "I wanted the world to end."
But Guzman, mother to a 9-year-old daughter, knew she couldn't let that
happen. And neither did any of the other nine breast cancer survivors
interviewed by WebMD as part of a special project for Breast Cancer Awareness
Their stories relay important messages about prevention, screening,...
Pertuzumab (Perjeta) is another antibody used to treat HER2-positive breast cancer. It's used in combination with Herceptin and Taxotere.
Another medication, ado-trastuzumab emtansine (Kadcyla), combines the antibody in Herceptin with a chemotherapy drug. It's used in patients with HER2-positive, metastatic breast cancer who were previously treated with a combination of Herceptin and a taxane.
One disadvantage of antibody treatment is that it is generally available only by injection. Small-molecule treatment can be taken in a pill.
Lapatinib (Tykerb) is an example of a small-molecule drug. It's used in combination with chemotherapy to treat some advanced cases of HER2-positive breast cancer. It’s often used when other cancer medications have been tried and weren't successful.
HER2-Negative Breast Cancer
Women who don’t have the HER2 gene are called "HER2-negative." These women need different cancer treatments than HER2-positive women.