Ado-Trastuzumab Emtansine (Kadcyla)

Updated 
July 16, 2019
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Ado-trastuzumabinfo-icon emtansine (Kadcyla) is the targeted therapyinfo-icon trastuzumab (Herceptin) with the chemotherapy medicineinfo-icon emtansine attached. It may also be called T-DM1.

Ado-trastuzumab emtansine is an antibody-drug conjugate, a treatment that pairs a chemotherapyinfo-icon medicine with a targeted therapy. The trastuzumab helps deliver the chemotherapy directly to the tumorinfo-icon cells. This helps limit the side effects of the chemotherapy on the healthy cells.

How Ado-Trastuzumab Emtansine Works

Trastuzumabinfo-icon attaches to the HER2 proteininfo-icon, allowing the chemotherapyinfo-icon emtansine to enter the cancer cellinfo-icon. Once inside the cell, the emtansine becomes active and kills the cell. This way, ado-trastuzumab emtansine causes cancer cells to die, while leaving healthy cells unharmed.

How Ado-Trastuzumab Emtansine Is Given

Ado-trastuzumabinfo-icon emtansine is given by veininfo-icon once every 3 weeks. For metastaticinfo-icon breast cancer, treatment continues as long as it controls the cancer, or until severe side effects develop. For early-stage breast cancerinfo-icon, it is given for 14 cycles.

Side Effects and Things to Remember

Common side effects of ado-trastuzumabinfo-icon emtansine include

Some people who take ado-trastuzumab emtansine develop a low white blood count, which may put you at risk for infectioninfo-icon. Call your doctor right away if you show any symptoms of infection, such as a fever with chills.

If you have serious side effects, your doctor may stop treatment for a time or switch you to another treatment.

Before starting ado-trastuzumab emtansine, tell your doctor about any history of heart or lung problems as well as any medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbal supplements and over-the-counterinfo-icon medicines. You should not become pregnant while taking ado-trastuzumab emtansine.

Your doctor, pharmacistinfo-icon or nurseinfo-icon can help you manage your side effects. You can also go to our section on Side Effects for more information.

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