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Herceptin & Nails-When will they improve?

BMac Member Posts: 115

I finished one year of Herceptin on January 8th/09 and my nails are still a mess.  I have to keep them really short or they split in the middle.  I was also on Taxotere (which I finished March/08) and that really did a number on my nails as well but that can't be the culprit.

So I asked my Onc in May, "When will my nails get better?"  Her response?  It's not the Herceptin.  There are other things that can cause problems with your nails, like your thyroid.  Aye Karumba!  There's nothing wrong with my thyroid!  It's the ongoing effects of the bleeping Herceptin!

So dear ladies who out there has been finished Herceptin and experienced an improvement in your nails?  How long after finishing Herceptin did this occur.  I can't wait to have normal nails again.  Not that I ever kept them long but this is ridiculous.

On a more positive note, my energy has greatly improved since going off Herceptin and I'm able to enjoy life much more.



  • juliejfsrj
    juliejfsrj Member Posts: 9

    I finished my year of herceptin in January also.  I did not do any chemo.  My nails did the same as yours, they would split in the middle and peel down.  Reaching into my purse would cause my fingertips to bleed.  I started taking biotin about three weeks ago, and am slowly seeing improvement.  Nails are now almost brittle rather than paper thin.  My nails look pinker and thicker.  They are short still, but feel stronger.  Only my thumb nails are still in terrible shape.

  • BMac
    BMac Member Posts: 115

    Yeah!  My thumbs too.  They have huge ridges in them.

  • lisa39
    lisa39 Member Posts: 8

    Hey BMac -- how are you?  We haven't chatted in ages.

    Re: nail.. my thumbs are ridged too - and the other nails are thin and peeling.  Get this -the other day, I was getting a basket out of the trunk and it dropped on to my toe.  I was wearing an open-toed sandal and it didn't hurt.. .but when I checked it later, a chunk of the toenail was gone!  I finished Herceptin on May 7th btw.

    BRAVEHEART28 Member Posts: 2


  • GointoCarolina
    GointoCarolina Member Posts: 95

    juliejfsrj,what kind of biotin are you taking and how much? I have the big ridges in my thumbs too,almost like a dent.Jackie

  • smithlme
    smithlme Member Posts: 383

    I saw this thread and had to respond. I didn't have Herceptin because my first cancer was triple negative and I had AC and Taxol. But...I, too, have tissue paper nails that split and have ridges. It will be 2 years in August since I ended chemo. My oncologist told me it was a side effect from chemo...


  • juliejfsrj
    juliejfsrj Member Posts: 9


    I take Nature's Bounty Biotin 1000mcg.  I think it helps.  My thumbs are also dented in and ridged.   

  • swimangel72
    swimangel72 Member Posts: 142

    I finished Herceptin at the end of April this year and my finger nails have improved - but still they split and peel. I finished Navelbine last year so I'm not blaming it on that - Herceptin is known for causing problems with nails. I asked my onc and he said give it a few more months and the nails will get better. He agreed that the Herceptin hurts our nails - he explained that our nails are an extension of the nervous system. The same thing that causes heart problems with Herceptin also causes the nail problems. I never heard that before - that nails are part of the nervous system - I certainly didn't learn that in Biology 101 - but it was one of the few times that my onc actually got talkative, so I tend to believe him.

  • BMac
    BMac Member Posts: 115

    Hi Lisa, so good to "talk" to you again.  I haven't been online in awhile.  Our internet was down for about a month and I got myself unhooked from constatly being online.  I'm actually beginning to live life again.

    Congratulations on finishing Herceptin.  I know I feel much more energetic since finishing.  I still tire easily but at least I'm able to do things.  I started working out again near the end of January and joined an exercise program at Wellspring in April.


  • pffida
    pffida Member Posts: 1

    I finished Herceptin a year ago and my nails have finally approached normal.  I just got rid of the last split in my thumb.  Be patient -- its just a long wait. 

  • BMac
    BMac Member Posts: 115

    Thanks pffida.  It gives me some hope.

  • Mocity
    Mocity Member Posts: 80

    I lost all my toenails while on Taxol and Herceptin.  All but my big toes are growing back in but they aren't good strong nails.  My big toes are awful.  My fingernails separated from the nail bed but didn't come off.  However, they are ridged and discolored but the part that separated from the bed is at least growing out.  They are weak though as well.  I guess the Herceptin is keeping them from healing.  My Onc said it is all from the Taxol.  My new issue on the nails is that they have white spots and flake like they are dry but I keep cuticle oil, lotion, etc. on them.  Who knows.  I am glad to hear there is hope that they will all be normal one day again.  It is hard with it being summer and not wearing sandals.  I will be taking the Herceptin until Nov09 and finished chemo Jan09.

  • juliejfsrj
    juliejfsrj Member Posts: 9

    Having finished herceptin 5 months ago, I finally feel my nails are thicker and pinker, feel smoother and have shape.  They still break if I even reach into my purse, but they don't keep splitting and flaking.  Yay!

  • sheila888
    sheila888 Member Posts: 9,611

    My nails were messed up just the way you are descriping it, since I was on chemo and Herceptin at the beginning of July 2005, I think chemo did the worst damage. It took at least 2 years to recover completely, I used to cover them with bandaids. They are no longer chipped but my nails never returned to normal. I say thats the least of our problems. We survived worse things. I am happy that Herceptin was approved at 2005 for early stage BC.

    I am pleased to say that I found this site where I can share my experiencec with all of you.

  • sheila888
    sheila888 Member Posts: 9,611
  • jenco60
    jenco60 Member Posts: 7

    I finished Herceptin over 5 months ago. My nails are coming back but still splitting and my hair is growing VERY SLOW. I am so tired of the side effects of these drugs. My back hurts, my legs are cramping, when I catch a cold it is like pneumonia. I only had a small lump and I feel like I am being over medicated. I read an article today from Moffitt Cancer that said many of the doctors are now allowing patients to take breaks. I had 6 full chemo treatments, 22 radiation treatments and now Herceptin. I think it is a lot of chemicals for a single lump 1.5 CM.

    I pray the treatment for this horrible decease gets easier on women in the future. Not having hair is humiliating at times. I live in FL. it is too hot to wear wigs. I am tired of people calling me sir.

  • daria7r
    daria7r Member Posts: 1

    Your oncologist is wrong. Many people on Herceptin have had the same problem. Search online for "Fingernail Disorders During Breast Cancer Chemotherapy" for some pics. The advice seems to be that new tissue will grow back on stopping the treatment, but it pushes out from the root of the nail bed outwards, so it's going to take a long time.

  • Why2015
    Why2015 Member Posts: 14

    Yes, totally agree! My nails are still a mess 5 months since being on Herceptin for a year. Also had 12 weeks of Taxol to start with the Herceptin. Radiation destroyed my breast. I have lymphedema and fluid retention in the breast, and I was terribly burned and blistered from the radiation. And now I only wonder what kind of damage was done to my heart and lungs as a result of this intense treatment? I still have neuropathy and burning in both of my feet near the toes and in my fingertips. My joints ache from tamoxifen, and I feel like a fat old lady ☹️. I often question is the treatment worth the compromised quality of life? Sorry to others that are more positive about this. I have just found the whole situation to be physically and emotionally draining. In addition, I've had to work throughout most of this time, and I'm doing it all on my own! Good luck to everyone out there!!

  • ComputerGal
    ComputerGal Member Posts: 3

    Hi, I am in the same boat. I don't know what to do that I haven't already been doing. It's been over a year since I finished with 6 rounds of Taxatere, Carboplatin, & continuing taking Herceptin for a year ending in January this year. My toenails look awful but at least not falling off. My fingernails just terrible. White with ridges. I use tea tree oil as suggested from the nurse, to no avail. They look and feel dry. I keep them short as the ends peel and one has a partial split down the middle. I take all kinds of supplements A, D3, C, multi-vitamin, & 10,000 mcg of biotin twice a day w/o any improvement. This is getting me down. I don't know what else to do. I tried OPI for peeling & breaking nails, but though it looked nicer, when I removed it, it seemed to to make it worse. I put super glue on the split nail to see if that would keep it from splitting more. Can someone help with more suggestions?

  • Germangirl16
    Germangirl16 Member Posts: 18

    Computer gal, your nails sound exactly like mine, right down to the vertical splits I try to fill in with glue. Taking the same supplements at same dosage you are, to no avail. So frustrating. If I ever do find something helpful, I'll pass it along, and should you, please let me know! The other frustration is my hair grew about 11/2 inches, and just stopped growing anymore on top, although sides and back seem to grow a little, grrrrr!

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 12,883

    I was told all along that the nail damage is from Taxotere & not Herceptin. Both of you ladies who posted this month need to go to My Profile and enter your diagnosis & treatment specifications.

    My final Taxotere was August 2013. Last Herceptin was 9/24/14. I had long since finished rads by then. I took Biotin all through treatment and for 2 years after. I am now 2-1/2 years past final treatment - almost 4 years past Taxotere. Even though I iced, my big toe nails were wrecked. I never totally lost them, but they still look like very sick hooves. One finally appears to be growing, but no clear nail. The other is still semi-detached. It never fell off, but the last 1/3 has not bonded back to the skin.

    But I'm celebrating that the vertical split in the 3rd finger nail FINALLY seems to have grown out of it's damage. Again - almost 4 years down the road. At one point I did try a fake nail, but that was a disaster. I used nail polish, super glue, everything else I could think of. It is such a change to look down at my left hand and see a nail that doesn't have to be cut back to nothing every other day so it doesn't continue to split.

    Dermatologists are the docs in charge of "hair, skin & nails". Maybe your derm docs will have some new ideas.

  • Beatmon
    Beatmon Member Posts: 617

    I wish I could find a dermatologist who knew more about nails than what we are all doing. What is so weird with mine is that they were good a year post Taxotere (continuing H&P) when they suddenly went to crap.

    I had to have both big toe nails lasered due to being ingrown, the rest of my toe nails are fine. No cracking peeling etc like my fingers. Talk about a daily reminder ,...when I have to manage a shredding nail.

  • ComputerGal
    ComputerGal Member Posts: 3

    Hello Ladies, thanks for answering. MinusTwo, I have had my profile filled out since I signed up. I don't know why it doesn't show. I now have stopped with any kind of polish and am using several types of oils I found at Walgreens. NailTek Keritin Nail Treatment and Sally Hanson Nail and Cuticle Oil Treatment with grapeseed oil etc. I put them on each a couple of times a day. I have no idea if it is helping yet as my nails soak it up & they seem to be as dry as ever. They never seem to grow much either. I use to have to cut my nails fairly frequently as I typed on my job when I worked. Now they grow so minisculely, it seems to take forever to grow 1/64" & they are always snagging on something or peeling.

    Now I have some other issues not for this forum but need to go in for an ultrasound & a mammogram.

    But should things improve using these oils, I will post my results.

    Chg'd profile as noted. Thanks!

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 12,883

    Computer Girl - you need to go back to My Profile and check the box to make the data public so I will appear.

    Good luck with your new testing. Do let us know.

  • Katgad1020
    Katgad1020 Member Posts: 1

    I finished Taxotere, Perjeta, and Carboplatin 2 years ago, and Heceptin 1 1/2 years ago. My fingernails are still a mess. I also have to keep my fingernails short because of them splitting in the middle (vertical ridging). I delveloped deep horizontal ridging in the last year. Some of the deepest horizontal ridging seems to be growing out, but I still have visible horizontal ridging. My nails are still very thin even after continuous use of O.P.I. nail strengthener. At my recent Oncology appt (2 years cancer free!), my Oncologist told me it was still from the chemotherapy I received. It’s an annoyance and not very pretty, but I’ll take it to be cancer free!

  • mmorelli
    mmorelli Member Posts: 1

    I too was on Taxotere, Carboplatin (finished May 1, 2017) and herceptin (December 2017). Fingernails are thin, dry and splitting down the middle with ridges as described by others—and it is painful. After trying glues, bandaides, stick on nail 'patches', i'm having a lot of success taking Biotin Forte (2 tablets at night) and using Nail Repair clear polish — Claudia Stevens Miracle Nail Fix. It seals the split nail as it grows out. 2-3 coats does the trick for me, and best of all it stops the pain of snagging on what seems like everything I come in contact with. I hope this helps. I look forward to healthy nails some day

  • Mocity
    Mocity Member Posts: 80

    I am 10 years out this summer but I remember these problems like it was yesterday. All my fingernails and toenails came back except my big toenails. I still have issues with them and probably will forever. For me, my lifesaver, was a podiatrist. After many dermatologist appointments with no help I found a podiatrist that GREATLY helped me. Give that a shot!

  • AliceKo
    AliceKo Member Posts: 44

    Cristl, congratulations on being 10 years out! How exactly did the podiatrist help you with your nails?

    My nails are very brittle, spliting. It has been over 5 months since I finished Herceptin, 15 months since I finished Taxol. I found these 2 prescriptions topical medications for brittle and splitting nails - Genadur and Nuvanail. Interesting if anyone heard about them.

  • astra1k
    astra1k Member Posts: 1

    I was diagnosed as HERS2+. I finished my chemo at end of January 2018. I just finished my last dosage of Herceptin September 2018. I only started having trouble with my fingernails this last month. They are very thin and continually split. I have to keep them really short. My nails have always been strong and would grow long - I never needed fingernail tips. I was thinking that I must be deficient in something. But then something clicked in my brain and I started wondering if Herceptin had anything to do with my nails cracking and splitting. I found women on this site that target Herceptin as the culprit as well as outside articles that point to the Herceptin as well. I'm wondering how long after ending Herceptin will my nails will improve? Looking for other women's experiences. - Thanks.

  • NotVeryBrave
    NotVeryBrave Member Posts: 169

    I had a similar experience with my nails. They were pretty good for a long time through chemo and Herceptin and then started doing weird things during the last month or two of Herceptin. Different nails would start to lift - the line between the pink and the white would become jagged. The worst ones were my ring and pinky fingers.

    Nowadays my nails are pretty normal. Both of my middle finger nails can start to split down the middle, but I had that problem sometimes with one of them before all of this. The only problem left is my left pinky. The pink part is still about half the length of the normal one. I've cut all the white off probably three times since I'd read that's what you're supposed to do. I don't think it's helping really. I don't like the way it looks and it starts to feel weird if I keep letting it grow.