The breast cancer drug Herceptin is now available via injection. Until very recently, the drug was administered via infusion -- a slow IV drip. ITV News reported yesterday that Herceptin is available in the United Kingdom via injection. It is also available in the United States. I went through 18 sessions of Herceptin infusions. If I had the option of a quick injection over time-consuming infusion, I would have jumped at the opportunity.
Herceptin via infusion
Herceptin is the brand name for the drug trastuzumab. It is prescribed for many patients with a type of breast cancer that multiplies quickly because the cells have too many HER2 receptors. This type of breast cancer is called HER2 positive. About 25 percent of all breast cancers are HER2 positive. Herceptin is used to block the HER2 receptors from working.
Historically, Herceptin has been administered through an IV infusion. This is how I received my treatment. It is a lengthy process. First, I had to have my port accessed for the IV. Then, drugs to prevent adverse and allergic reactions are administered. Finally, the Herceptin is delivered through the IV. The total time for everything took approximately two hours. Afterwards, I had to go through the process of having my port flushed and the IV removed.
Herceptin via injection
The injectable form of Herceptin takes only five minutes to deliver. Oral drugs can be administered to prevent adverse reactions and side effects. Instead of having to sit in an infusion bed for a couple of hours, a patient can be in and out of the doctor's office in about half an hour. Injectable Herceptin is a huge time saver.
Sitting in an infusion department of any facility can be disturbing. Even though there are privacy curtains, you can still hear and see what is going on. Every once in a while someone will have a catastrophic reaction to a chemotherapy drug. It is a scary event to watch. You sit there wondering if you could be next.
There are other reasons to avoid being in the infusion area. Everyone there is receiving a form of chemotherapy or cancer treatment. Immune systems are weakened or nonexistent. The longer you sit there, the higher the chances of getting sick.
Having Herceptin delivered by injection allows the drug to be administered in your oncologist's office. There is no need for a lengthy wait for an IV to finish. I wish this was available in 2012. I would have jumped at the chance to drop by my oncologist's office for a quick injection once every three weeks, instead of going through the process of an IV infusion. Life is short; there is no reason to spend it hooked up to an IV if you don't have to.
Lynda Altman was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2011. She is an advocate for women's health issues.
- Disease & Medical Conditions
- breast cancer