TH: Paclitaxel and Trastuzumab

TH (paclitaxelinfo-icon and trastuzumabinfo-icon) is a chemotherapyinfo-icon regimeninfo-icon used to treat HER2-positive breast cancer. It is a combination of two medicines:

Sometimes this regimen is offered with another taxane, docetaxel (Taxotere), instead of paclitaxel. It would still be called TH. Ask your providers to explain why they recommend one taxane over another. 

How TH Works

Paclitaxelinfo-icon works by damaging the structure or the “skeleton” that supports cancer cells. This stops the cancer cells from growing and dividing. Docetaxelinfo-icon (Taxotereinfo-icon) works in a similar way and is sometimes used instead of paclitaxel.

Trastuzumabinfo-icon works by attaching to the HER2 proteins on the surface of HER2-positive cancer cells, and blocks the signals that cause the cancer cells to multiply.

Who Gets TH

TH may be used to treat stageinfo-icon I and small stage II HER2- positive breast cancers that have not traveled to the lymphinfo-icon nodes. TH is given after surgeryinfo-icon as adjuvant therapyinfo-icon. It can also be used to treat metastaticinfo-icon HER2-positive breast cancer.

You and your doctor will discuss the best chemotherapyinfo-icon treatment for your situation.

How TH Is Given

TH is usually given by veininfo-icon into your hand or arm once a week for 12 weeks. This is typically followed by 9 months of treatment with trastuzumabinfo-icon alone, given either weekly or once every 3 weeks.

Side Effects and Things to Remember

Different medicines have different side effects. You may not have every side effectinfo-icon related to each medicineinfo-icon of the combination therapyinfo-icon.  

TH tends to cause fewer serious side effects than other combination regimens for HER2-positive breast cancer that contain multiple chemotherapyinfo-icon medicines plus trastuzumabinfo-icon. Side effects of TH may include:

Heart problems are a rare but serious side effect of trastuzumab. These include congestive heart failure, when the heart muscle weakens and doesn’t pumpinfo-icon blood well. Your doctor will check your heart before you start treatment and every several months during treatment. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have ever had heart problems.

Also tell your doctor about any medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbal supplements and over-the counter-medicines, to make sure they will not interfere with your chemotherapy treatment.

Contact your doctor right away if you develop a fever or other symptoms of an infectioninfo-icon such as a sore throat or chills.

Talk to your doctor, pharmacistinfo-icon or nurseinfo-icon about all your side effects so that they can help you manage them. You can also go to our section on Side Effects for more information.

August 31, 2015