Understanding HER2+ early breast cancer

What is HER2+ breast cancer?

All the cells in the body—healthy and cancerous—have HER2 receptors. But HER2+ breast cancer cells have too many HER2 receptors, which make them grow and divide faster than other types of cells. This causes tumors to form.

In early breast cancer, the cancer starts in the breast but has not spread to other parts of the body. However, cancer cells may also be in nearby glands called lymph nodes.

How does my doctor know that my breast cancer is HER2+?

Only a HER2 test will show if your breast cancer is HER2+. This test should be done before any breast cancer treatment is started. KADCYLA has been shown to work only in people with HER2+ breast cancer.

What is HER2-targeted treatment?

Targeted cancer treatments are designed to target specific characteristics of cancer cells, but may also affect healthy cells. They are different from traditional chemotherapy. Chemotherapy kills cells that grow and divide rapidly, regardless of whether they are healthy cells or cancer cells.

HER2-targeted treatments are designed to bind to HER2 receptors to fight cancer cells that have too many HER2 receptors. Keep in mind that healthy cells also have HER2 receptors—just not as many—so these types of treatments can affect healthy cells, too.

What is neoadjuvant and adjuvant treatment?

Everyone’s treatment plan is unique. Some people receive neoadjuvant treatment (before surgery), some receive adjuvant treatment (after surgery), and some people receive both. Each type has its purpose and every patient’s journey is unique, but the goal of treatment in early breast cancer is the same: cure. While the goal of treatment is to keep you cancer free as long as possible, no treatment plan is a guarantee of that.

Keep in mind that not all cancers respond to neoadjuvant or adjuvant treatment. It’s possible that the cancer may still return after treatment. In addition, some people may experience serious or common side effects during or after treatment. You and your doctor should discuss your specific goals of treatment and the potential side effects that you may experience.


Learn about KADCYLA for HER2+ early breast cancer and how well it works.


Understand how KADCYLA is given for early breast cancer.