Erlotinib is prescribed for the treatment of specific types of non-small cell lung cancer that have advanced to adjacent tissues or metastasized to other body regions in patients who have previously undergone treatment with at least one other chemotherapy medication without experiencing improvement.
Erlotinib belongs to a class of pharmaceuticals known as kinase inhibitors. Its mechanism of action involves obstructing the activity of an aberrant protein that triggers the proliferation of cancer cells, thereby impeding or halting the dissemination of these malignant cells.
Uses and Dosage
Administer this medication orally on an empty stomach, ideally at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal, following your doctor’s guidance, typically once daily.
The prescribed dosage hinges on your medical condition, response to treatment, and any concurrent medications you may be taking. Communicate your entire medication profile to your doctor and pharmacist, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and herbal products.
Medications that reduce stomach acid, such as antacids and H2 blockers like ranitidine, might impede the efficacy of erlotinib. Seek guidance from your doctor or pharmacist on how to use these medications safely in conjunction with erlotinib.
While on this medication, abstain from consuming grapefruit or grapefruit juice unless expressly approved by your doctor or pharmacist. Grapefruit can heighten the likelihood of experiencing side effects when combined with this medicine.
To optimize the therapeutic benefits of this medication, adhere to a regular dosing schedule, taking it at the same time each day.
Avoid any inclination to augment your dose or extend the duration of drug usage beyond the prescribed regimen. Doing so will not expedite the improvement of your condition and may elevate the risk of severe side effects.
Due to the potential for this drug to be absorbed through the skin and respiratory system, posing a risk to an unborn child, pregnant women or those at risk of pregnancy should refrain from handling this medication or inhaling dust from the tablets.
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention:
- loss of appetite
- mouth sores
- weight loss
- extreme tiredness
- bone or muscle pain
- numbness, burning, or tingling of the hands or feet
- swelling of the arms, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- darkening of skin
- hair loss
- changes in the appearance of the hair and nails
Inform your healthcare provider immediately if you experience any serious side effects:
- blistering, peeling, dry, or cracked skin
- itching, tenderness, or burning of the skin
- shortness of breath
- fever or chills
- growth of eyelashes on the inside of the eyelid
- severe stomach pain
- dry, red, painful, teary, or irritated eyes
- blurred vision
- eye sensitivity to light
- chest pain or pressure
- pain in the arms, neck, or upper back
- rapid, irregular, or pounding heartbeat
- slow or difficult speech
- dizziness or faintness
- weakness or numbness of an arm or leg
- unusual bruising or bleeding
- black and tarry or bloody stools
- vomit that is bloody or looks like coffee grounds
- sunken eyes
- dry mouth
- decreased urination
- dark urine
- pale or yellow skin
- redness, warmth, pain, tenderness, or swelling in one leg
Prior to commencing erlotinib treatment, inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have any known allergies, including allergies to erlotinib or any other allergens. This medication might contain inactive components that have the potential to trigger allergic reactions or other adverse effects.
Before initiating this medication, provide your doctor or pharmacist with a comprehensive account of your medical history, with particular emphasis on any history of liver disease, kidney disease, or gastrointestinal conditions such as ulcers or diverticulosis.
Be aware that this medication may lead to stomach bleeding. The regular consumption of alcohol while using this medication can heighten the risk of stomach bleeding, limit alcohol intake.
Exposure to sunlight may exacerbate any skin reactions that may arise while taking this medication. To mitigate this risk, minimize your time in the sun, avoid tanning booths and sunlamps, and take precautions such as applying sunscreen and wearing protective clothing when outdoors.
Due to the potential for this drug to be absorbed through the skin and respiratory system and potentially harm an unborn child, women who are pregnant or may become pregnant avoid handling this medication or inhaling dust from the tablets.
Notify your doctor if you are currently pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Conception should be avoided while using erlotinib, as this medication may pose a risk to an unborn baby. Discuss reliable forms of birth control with your healthcare provider while using this medication and for 1 month after your final dose. If you do become pregnant, promptly consult your doctor to assess the risks and benefits of continuing this medication.
The passage of this drug into breast milk remains uncertain. Do not breastfeed while using this medication and for 2 weeks after discontinuation of treatment due to potential risks to the infant. Consult your doctor before making any decisions regarding breastfeeding while using erlotinib.
Form and Strength
Tarceva is available in the following forms and strengths:
Does Tarceva shrink tumors?
It may help to shrink tumors.
How often is Tarceva taken?
The typical dosage of Tarceva for pancreatic cancer is 100 mg once per day.