Targeted therapy for advanced breast cancer

Breast cancer

Targeted therapy for advanced breast cancer

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy

In addition to hormone therapy and chemotherapy, there are targeted therapies (sometimes called biological therapies) that can treat breast cancer cells without harming normal rapidly dividing cells. These drugs interfere with signals that tell the cancer cells to grow and stops them growing and dividing.

When is targeted therapy used for ABC?

Targeted therapy drugs are usually given with chemotherapy or hormone therapy. Your oncologist will explain which targeted therapy drug or drugs are suitable for you, based on your hormone receptors and receptors for HER2.

Receptors for HER2

Some breast cancers cells have a higher than normal level of a protein called HER2 on their surface, which stimulates them to grow. This is called HER2 positive, or HER2+.

Types of targeted therapy

Trastuzumab (Herceptin/Herzuma)
Pertuzumab (Perjeta)

Trastuzumab biosimilars

Now that the patent for Herceptin has expired, biosimilars for this medicine can be brought onto the market. Transtuzumab biosimilars are very close copies of the original traztuzamab (Herceptin) and are expected to work the same way. They are made by different pharmaceutical companies around the world. Five biosimilars are available overseas, including Australia. These include Herzuma, Ontruzant, Trazimera, Ogivri and Kanjinti. Herclon is another trastuzumab biosimilar on the market.

Herzuma, Ontruzant, Trazimera are all licensed for use in New Zealand, but Kanjinti and Herclon are not. None of these biosimilars are funded.

Antibody drug conjugates

Antibody drug conjugates are made up of two different types of medicine joined together - an antibody and a chemotherapy. The antibody will attach itself directly to the cancer cell allowing the chemotherapy to gain direct entry to that cell and kill it. Both drugs work together in sync.

Trastuzumab Emtansine - T-DM1 (Kadcyla)
Sacituzumab govitecan (Trodelvy)

CDK4/6 inhibitors

Palbociclib (Ibrance)

Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs)


Monoclonal antibodies

Bevacizumab (Avastin)

mTOR inhibitors

Everolimus (Afinitor)

PARP inhibitors



Pembrolizumab (Keytruda)