Tarceva® 25 mg; 100mg; 150mg
What Erlotinib is and what it is used for?
- Erlotinib is a receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor that targets on the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) on cells. EGFR is found in large amounts on the surface of some cancer cells, resulting in tumors growing more quickly. Erlotinib blocks the function of EGFR, thus preventing further cancer cell growth and slowing cancer progression.
- Erlotinib is used in a treatment for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that has spread to other parts of the body and that has EGFR mutations in exon 19 and exon 21. Your doctor will perform an EGFR mutation test to determine if this drug is right for you.
How to take Erlotinib?
- Erlotinib is taken by mouth once daily on an empty stomach, at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after eating. The pharmacist will give you the tablets to take home with you. Take your drugs exactly as you are instructed.
- If you have difficulty swallowing tablets, you can dissolve the tablets in 100 mL of water. Stir with a spoon until tablets are completely dissolved, and then drink it immediately. The container and spoon should be washed thoroughly.
- If you forget to take the medicine, take it as soon as you remember. Skip the dose if it is less than 12 hours until next dose.
What should I need to know while receiving Erlotinib?
- An allergic reaction might happens, symptoms include fever and chills, breathing difficulties, swelling of throat or face, or hives. Seek medical help at once if you feel unwell while taking this drug.
- Do not receive this drug when you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Men and women should use effective contraception during treatment and for at least 1 month after the treatment ends.
- Do not receive any kind of vaccination without doctor's approval.
- You will have regular blood tests to check that you have enough blood cells and have adequate organ functions to receive this drug. The timing of your treatment may be changed based on the test results or other side effects.
- There are many drugs may affect how erlotinib works. Tell your doctor about all the medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
- The existing health problems may affect the use of erlotinib. You should let your doctor know if you have any other medical problems, especially liver or kidney diseases.
Common side effects
Ask your doctor about medicines that can relieve diarrhea. Drinking plenty of water and dietary changes may help.
- Nausea or vomiting
Medicines may be given to help stop it happening. Eating and drinking often in small amounts may help lessen these symptoms.
- Loss of appetite
Try to eat in small quantities and have frequent meals. If your appetite does not get any better after a few days, tell your doctor.
- Skin reactions
Symptoms include dryness, itching, and rash. Tell your doctor about any skin changes that you have. Your doctor can give you medicines and advices that help you feel better.
- Weakness or fatigue
Try to pace yourself and rest as much as you need to. Speak to your doctors if you are feeling very tired. They can help you to manage it and might give you treatment.
- Muscle or bone pain
Talk to the doctor if the pain is bothering you, they can give you medicine to help ease pain.
Less common side effects
- Hair thinning
It may begin 2-3 weeks after your first treatment. Hair growth should return after treatment has finished.
- Eye irritation
You might have dry eyes or infection in the eyes. Tell your doctor if this happens. Medicines can be given to relieve symptoms.
- Elevated liver enzyme
This is usually mild and may return to normal after treatment has ended. Seek medical help right away if you have yellowing of the skin or eyes, dark or brown urine, or pain in abdomen, as these can be signs of liver toxicity.
Rare but serious side effects
- Interstitial lung disease
This is a rare but life-threatening lung inflammation associated with erlotinib. Seek medical help at once if you suddenly have unexplained difficulty breathing, a hacking cough, or there is any existing breathing problems get worse.
- Bleeding in the digestive tract
This is a rare but life-threatening condition that erlotinib may cause a hole or tear in your stomach or intestine. Seek medical help at once if you have severe pain or cramps in the abdomen, blood or tarry stools, throwing up blood, or vomit that looks like coffee grounds.
- Changes in kidney function
Erlotinib may affect how your kidney works. Seek medical help at once if you have unable to pass urine, decreased urination, swelling in limbs, a big weight gain, or pain in lower back.
- Changes in heart function
Erlotinib may increase the risk of stroke and heart attack. Seek medical help at once if you suddenly have chest pain, difficulty breathing, severe headache, weakness on one side of the body, or difficult thinking.
- Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water every day during treatment can help make your recovery a smoother process.
- Alcohol and cigarettes may interfere with certain medicines or worsen side effects from chemotherapy treatment. It is wise to avoid alcohol and cigarette smoking during cancer treatment. If you have any problem about drinking alcohol and smoking, you should check with your doctor.
- Avoid eating grapefruit or drinking beverages containing grapefruit. This is because grapefruits can affect how erlotinib works and can worsen the side effects.
- Avoid taking St. John's wort as it may make erlotinib less effective.
- Your skin may more sensitive to sunlight and may burn more easily during treatment with erlotinib. You should stay out of the sun. If you must go out in the sun, wear protective clothing and use sunscreen.
- Tips for proper medicine storage:
- Keep tablets in their original packaging at room temperature, away from heat or direct sunlight.
- Keep tablets safe and out of the reach of children.
- Return any unused tablets to the hospital if your treatment is stopped.