Targeted therapy for stomach cancer

Some cancers in the stomach and gastro-oesophageal junction are linked to high levels of HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2). This protein causes cancer cells to grow uncontrollably. Tumours that have high levels of these receptors are called HER2 positive tumours.

If you have advanced HER2 positive stomach or gastrooesophageal cancer, you may be treated with a targeted therapy drug called trastuzumab. This drug destroys the HER2 positive cancer cells or reduces their ability to divide and grow. Trastuzumab is given with chemotherapy every three weeks through a drip into a vein.

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Listen to a podcast on New Cancer Treatments – Immunotherapy and Targeted Therapy

Side effects of targeted therapy

Ask your doctor what side effects you may experience and how long your treatment will last. Potential side effects of trastuzumab include fever and nausea. In some people, trastuzumab can affect the way the heart works.

It is important to discuss any side effects with your doctor immediately. If left untreated, some side effects can become life‑threatening.

You may be able to access new drugs to treat stomach cancer through clinical trials. Talk with your doctor about the latest developments and whether you are a suitable candidate.

Video: What is targeted therapy?

Watch this short video to learn more about targeted therapy.

This information was last reviewed in September 2017
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