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Tarceva (erlotinib) is a type of targeted therapy drug that has been approved for use as a single agent treatment (monotherapy) for patients with locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) after at least one prior chemotherapy treatment has failed.
This brand-name prescription drug is also used with the chemotherapy drug Gemcitabine to treat locally advanced, inoperable, or metastatic pancreatic cancer. A study showed that it could improve overall the survival of patients.
Another approved indication of this medication is for use as maintenance treatment for those who have locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that has not progressed after being treated with four cycles of platinum-based first-line chemotherapy. Significant improvement in the aspect of living without the disease getting worse was the result in a clinical trial.
This medication is also indicated as a first-line treatment for people with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors have been detected to have certain epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations by an approved test. Tumor shrinkage and higher median progression-free survival were observed in a study.
Tarceva mechanism of action
This medication contains an active substance called Erlotinib, an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) – tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI). EGFRs are active and expressed in normal cells and are highly abundant in many cancer cells. When an epidermal growth factor (EGF) binds to this EGFR, the tyrosine kinase enzyme will activate and initiate a chemical reaction that causes the cells, including cancer cells, to grow, divide, and spread (metastasize).
Tarceva (Erlotinib) works by preventing the binding of EGF and EGFR and the activation of tyrosine kinase. This leads to the prevention of the growth and spread of cancer cells.
Tarceva comes in film-coated tablets and is available in three dosage strengths: 25 mg, 100mg, and 150 mg.
The recommended dose is Tarceva 150 mg orally once daily for adult patients with lung cancer.
The recommended dose is Tarceva 100 mg orally once daily for adults with pancreatic cancer.
How to take Tarceva
Take Tarceva as directed by your healthcare provider. Read and follow the prescription label, medication guide, or instruction sheets. This drug is taken at least 1 hour or 2 hours after meals (on an empty stomach).
Take Tarceva regularly to obtain the most benefit from it. Taking it at the same time each day may help you remember.
Do not take this drug more often than it is prescribed for you might increase the risk of serious side effects.
Do not take this medication if you are allergic to it or any of its active and inactive ingredients.
Before taking this drug, inform your healthcare provider about your medical history, especially if you have had liver and kidney disease and stomach or intestinal diseases like ulcers and diverticulosis.
Before using this drug, tell your healthcare the other medications that you take, including vitamins, herbal supplements, over-the-counter medications, and prescription drugs. Certain medicines can interact with Tarceva, so your doctor must be well-informed of all the drugs you take. Antacid, ranitidine, and other lower stomach acid medications may prevent Tarceva from working. If you need to take these drugs, discuss with your doctor how to use them with Tarceva safely.
It is recommended to avoid consuming grapefruit and products containing grapefruit to increase the chance of side effects with Tarceva. You can ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist for more information about it.
Tarceva can be harmful to an unborn baby. Tell your doctor immediately if you are pregnant or plan to get pregnant.
The most common side effect observed in most studies about Tarceva treatment was rash, known as an acneiform rash. It can occur in 50-100% of patients treated with this drug. This rash usually occurs after a few days or within the first week of treatment. It may appear as red bumps that transform into pustules, turning into pus lakes that dry and form yellow crusts. It develops on the face, chest, scalp, upper trunk, and thighs.
Xeroderma may also develop, characterized by dry or darkened and rough skin that may crack, become flaky or itchy, or scaly.
Tarceva side effects
Here are the common side effects of Tarceva:
-Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting
-Loos of appetite
-Weakness and tiredness
Seek medical help right away if you experience an allergic reaction to this drug. Allergic reaction symptoms are rash, itching, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat, severe dizziness, and difficult breathing.
Discontinue using Tarceva and call your health care provider immediately if you experience any of the following serious side effects of Tarceva treatment:
-Persistent and severe nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
-Sudden chest discomfort or pain, feeling shortness of breath, dry cough, and wheezing
-Fever, chills, severe abdominal pain, and coughing up blood
-Vision changes and eye pain or irritation
-Symptoms of a heart attack include chest pain or pressure, pain radiating to the jaw or shoulders, sweating, and nausea.
-Slurred speech, sudden numbness or weakness (particularly on one side of the body sudden severe headache, vision and balance problems which are signs of stroke
-Liver problems are shown by persistent nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, yellowing of the eyes or skin (jaundice), and dark urine
-Kidney problems are shown by changes in the amount of urine (little or no urine output), rapid weight gain (especially in the face), and swelling
Frequently Ask Questions about Tarceva
Is Tarceva chemotherapy?
- Tarceva is a type of targeted therapy and is not considered chemotherapy. It is a modern class of medication classified as a growth factor receptor (EGFR) – tyrosine kinase inhibitor that targets a protein involved in the growth and spread of cancer cells.
What drugs should not be taken with Tarceva?
- Several medications can interact and should not be taken together with Tarceva. Some of these are cimetidine, ranitidine, omeprazole, pantoprazole and other medications that reduce stomach acid, St. John’s wort (an herbal supplement), phenobarbital, and phenytoin. Avoid using acne medications applied to the skin because they can cause dryness or irritation.
25mg, 100mg, 150mg
The information above is provided by third parties to Prescriptionpoint.com for Tarceva (Erlotinib). This information is for general purposes only and is not intended to replace a physician's advice. Always consult with your doctor or a qualified health care professional if you need advice on any medical concerns.