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Breast Cancer Health Center

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Targeted Therapy for Breast Cancer

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HER2-Negative Breast Cancer

If you don’t have the faulty version of the HER2 gene that makes too many copies of itself, your disease is "HER2-negative." You'll need different treatments.

If you've gone through menopause and have already tried certain treatments, your doctor might prescribe everolimus (Afinitor) with exemestane(Aromasin). Everolimus is for certain advanced cancers.

Some postmenopausal women with certain types of advanced breast cancer may get prescribed palbociclib(Ibrance) with letrozole(Femara).

Other types of targeted treatments that are being studied to fight breast cancer include:

  • Angiogenesis inhibitors. These antibodies prevent the growth of new blood vessels, cutting off the supply of oxygen and nutrients to cancer cells. To date, the only such drug used for breast cancer, bevacizumab, lost its FDA approval because the risks outweighed its benefits and it didn't improve how long people with breast cancer lived.
  • Signal transduction inhibitors. These antibodies block signals inside the cancer cell that help the cells divide, stopping the cancer from growing.

Side Effects

These differ from one medicine to another. But they include:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Trouble breathing
  • Swelling
  • Nausea
  • Rashes
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness

Tell your doctor about any side effects you have. She may be able to ease them.

Recognize an Emergency

Call your nurse or doctor if you have:

  • A temperature over 100.4 F. If you have any fever and chills, tell your doctor immediately. If you can't reach your doctor, go to the emergency room.
  • New mouth sores or patches, a swollen tongue, or bleeding gums
  • A dry, burning, scratchy, or "swollen" throat
  • A cough that is new or persistent
  • Feeling the need to pee more often, stronger urges than usual, a burning feeling while peeing, or blood in your urine
  • Heartburn, nausea, vomiting, constipation, or diarrhea that lasts longer than 2 or 3 days
  • Blood in your stools
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling in feet or ankles
  • Severe tiredness or fatigue

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on October 01, 2015
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