Erlotinib (Tarceva) For the Treatment of Cancer
Erlotinib is a pill form of chemotherapy medicine given to treat cancer. It should be taken at the same time each day. It needs to be taken on an empty stomach. This means taking it 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals. It is advised not to smoke when using this medication.
How It Is Given
This medicine is a pill that you swallow.
Common Side Effects
- Rash on sun exposed areas
- Diarrhea (Diarrhea-Loperimide (Imodim AD), which is available over the counter, may be used)
- Loss of appetite
- Dry and/or itchy skin
- Shortness of breath
- Irritation around eyes
- Abdominal pain and indigestion with excessive 'gas'
Less Common Side Effects
- Severe diarrhea
- Eye irritation
- Blood in stools
- Lung inflammation
- Liver changes
When to Call Your Health Care Provider
- Difficulty breathing
- Diarrhea not controlled by medication (Anti diarrhea medicine such as Imodium AD)
- Nausea, anorexia, or vomiting not controlled by medicine
- Yellowing of skin or the whites of your eyes
- Blood in your stools
- Severe abdominal pain
- Changes in vision
- Blistering and peeling of skin
Erlotinib can interact with some kinds of antibiotics, antiviral, and, antifungal drugs, and warfarin (a blood thinner). You should make sure you have told your cancer doctor about all medicines you are using, and make sure your local doctor knows you are taking erlotinib if they prescribe any new ones.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 05/23/2012
Reproduced with permission from the 1989-2005 United States Pharmacopeial Convention, Inc. Printed in 2005 by the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority, Department of Nursing, Madison WI. UWH #6191
Print Health Fact For You