Kadcyla, or ad-trastuzumab emtansine

Kadcyla, or ad-trastuzumab emtansine

This patient-friendly article is about chemotherapy drug, Kadcyla (trade name: ad-trastuzumab emtansine) which was first approved by the FDA in 2013 for treating patients with late-stage breast cancer. In early 2019, it was used after surgery for patients with HER2-positive early breast cancer with the residual invasive disease after neoadjuvant treatment.

The cancer drug is an anti-HER2 monoclonal antibody combined with microtubule inhibitor DM1 which means it is used in targeted therapy. It works by targeting the specific receptor (HER2) on the surface of cancer cells leading to cell death.

Approved by

the Medical Board. 

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In the year 2019, Kadcyla was approved based on the results of reduced risk in invasive breast cancer recurrence or death by 50% in patients with HER2-positive early breast cancer. Further results also showed that cancer did not return in 88.3% of patients treated with Kadcyla compared to 77% of patients treated with Herceptin.

The recommended dosage is 3.6 mg/kg IV every 3 weeks with a 21-day cycle. The first infusion should be over 90 minutes and the subsequent infusions are over 30 minutes. 

Common side effects: nausea, headaches, constipation, musculoskeletal pain, haemorrhage, transaminases etc. (occurring in more than 25% of patients) 

Precautions: Do not substitute Trastuzumab for Kadcyla. 

  • Liver problems (hepatotoxicity)
  • Heart problems (e.g. pulmonary or cardiac toxicity)
  • Infusion-related reactions
  • Decreased platelet counts (thrombocytopenia) 
  • Embryo-fetal toxicity

Go to: 10 ways to improve your chemotherapy success and reduce side-effects

Other articles that you may find interesting are:

  1. A diet for Chemotherapy
  2. Immunotherapy overview
  3. A to Z Guide to Complementary Therapies

Go to: Return to the CANCERactive drug list

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