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Tarceva (generically known as Erlotinib) is a prescription medication used to treat non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and pancreatic cancer. Erlotinib belongs to a class of drugs called EGFR inhibitors. It works by inhibiting the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling pathway, which is often overactive in cancer cells.
EGFR is a type of protein on the surface of cells that signals cancer cells to divide and grow. By blocking the activity of EGFR, Tarceva can slow down or even stop the growth of cancer cells. This targeted approach is intended to limit the damage to healthy cells and tissues, minimizing the side effects of treatment.
Uses and Dosage
Erlotinib is available in tablet form and should be taken orally. It should be taken on an empty stomach, at least one or two hours before a meal, or as directed by your physician. Swallow the tablet with a glass of water afterward and avoid taking it with medications that can lower stomach acid (such as antacids or H2 blockers) because this could significantly reduce the effectiveness of the drug.
The recommended dose of Erlotinib can vary depending on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.
- For non-small cell lung cancer, the recommended daily dose is typically 150 mg taken on an empty stomach at least one hour before or two hours after the ingestion of food. The dose may be adjusted by a doctor based on the individual's response to treatment and any side effects that may occur.
- For pancreatic cancer, Erlotinib is typically used in combination with gemcitabine, and the recommended daily dose is 100 mg taken on an empty stomach at least one hour before or two hours after the ingestion of food. Again, the dose may be adjusted by a doctor based on the individual's response to treatment and any side effects that may occur.
To get the best benefits of Erlotinib, take it regularly and follow a dosing schedule. Follow the instructions and recommendations provided by your medical practitioner. Your dosage will be determined based on your medical condition, response to treatment, and other drugs you may be taking. Do not modify your dosage or take it more frequently than prescribed, as this will not improve your condition and may increase the risk of severe side effects.
Common Side Effects of Tarceva (Erlotinib):
- Dry skin
- Eye dryness
- Loss of appetite
- Mouth sores
- Muscle or joint pain
- Stomach upset
- Trouble breathing
- Unusual eyelash growth
- Weight loss
Serious Side Effects of Tarceva (Erlotinib):
- Black and tarry or bloody stools
- Blistering, peeling, dry, or cracked skin
- Blurred vision
- Chest pain or pressure
- Dark urine
- Decreased urination
- Dizziness or faintness
- Dry mouth
- Dry, red, painful, teary, or irritated eyes
- Eye sensitivity to light
- Fever or chills
- Growth of eyelashes on the inside of the eyelid
- Itching, tenderness, or burning of the skin
- Pain in the arms, neck, or upper back
- Pale or yellow skin
- Rapid, irregular, or pounding heartbeat
- Rash (may look like acne and may affect the skin on the face, upper chest, or back)
- Redness, warmth, pain, tenderness, or swelling in one leg
- Severe stomach pain
- Shortness of breath
- Slow or difficult speech
- Sunken eyes
- Unusual bruising or bleeding
- Vomit that is bloody or looks like coffee grounds
- Weakness or numbness of an arm or leg
Form and Strength
Tarceva (Erlotinib) is available in the following forms and strengths:
- 100 mg
- 25 mg
- 100 mg
- 150 mg
- The Tarceva should be used with caution in patients with total bilirubin levels greater than 3 times the upper limit of normal (ULN).
- Tarceva may cause lung problems, including interstitial lung disease (ILD), which can be fatal. Patients who experience cough, fever, or trouble breathing should stop taking erlotinib and seek medical attention.
- Potent CYP3A4 inhibitors, such as cimetidine, may decrease levels of erlotinib. Concurrent use should be avoided when possible and caution should be taken if combining the two drugs. It may not be comprehensive and need to consult with a healthcare provider for specific cautions or concerns related to Tarceva.
- Tarceva may cause severe skin reactions, including Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis. Patients who experience severe rashes or blisters should stop taking erlotinib and seek medical attention.
- Erlotinib may interact with other medications, including warfarin, which can increase the risk of bleeding. Patients taking warfarin or other blood thinners should be closely monitored.
- The use of erlotinib has been associated with ocular disorders, including keratitis and corneal perforation. Patients who experience eye pain or vision changes should seek medical attention.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How long should I take Tarceva?
Your doctor will determine the length of your treatment based on your medical condition and response to the medication.
Can Tarceva be taken with other medications?
Tarceva may interact with other medications, so inform your doctor about all the medications and supplements you are taking. Your doctor will advise you on whether it is safe to take Tarceva with other medications.
Does Tarceva have any special storage requirements?
Tarceva should be stored at room temperature, away from light and moisture. Do not store it in the bathroom or in other areas where it may become exposed to moisture.
It's important to purchase Tarceva from verified Canadian pharmacy.