Side effects, uses, use with other drugs, etc.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves prescription drugs such as Tarceva to treat certain conditions. Tarceva can also be used off-label for other conditions. Off-label drug use occurs when an FDA-approved drug is prescribed for purposes other than those for which it is approved.
Tarceva for non-small cell lung cancer
Tarceva is approved by the FDA to treat non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in adults whose cancer is both:
Before prescribing Tarceva, your doctor will order tests to check for mutations in the EGFR gene. Tarceva is approved to treat metastatic NSCLC with certain mutations. These are called exon 19 deletion or exon 21 substitution (also called L858R point mutation).
For this use, Tarceva can be prescribed as first-line treatment or as maintenance (long-term) treatment. It is also used as a secondary or later treatment for cancer that has progressed (worsened) after treatment with chemotherapy.
Tarceva has usage limitations. Treatment with Tarceva is not recommended with chemotherapy drugs containing platinum. Examples include carboplatin and cisplatin.
Also, it is not known if Tarceva is safe or effective for people whose cancer has genetic mutations other than those described above.
To note: Tarceva is not a chemotherapy drug. It is considered a targeted therapy. For more information, see the “How Tarceva works” section below.
Non-small cell lung cancer explained
Genes are made up of DNA and they provide instructions for our body to make proteins. EGFR is a protein that helps cells grow and multiply (produce more cells). If genetic mutations occur, the EGFR may function abnormally. This can cause cells to grow and multiply faster than usual. This can lead to certain types of cancer, including NSCLC.
Symptoms of NSCLC can include:
EGFR mutations and NSCLC can occur in smokers and those who have never smoked. If you smoke, your doctor will advise you to quit. In fact, quitting smoking can help relieve some symptoms of lung cancer.
If you stop smoking during treatment with Tarceva, talk to your doctor. They will likely adjust your dosage. (For more information, see “Tarceva Dosage” and “Tarceva Precautions” sections below.)
To learn more about the treatment of lung cancer, see Today’s medical news lung cancer hub.
Effectiveness for non-small cell lung cancer
Tarceva is effective in treating the type of NSCLC described above. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network includes Tarceva as an option in its treatment guidelines for metastatic NSCLC.
To learn more about Tarceva’s performance in clinical trials, see the drug fact sheet prescribing information. And if you’re wondering if Tarceva is right for you, talk to your doctor.
Tarceva for pancreatic cancer
Tarceva is also FDA-approved to treat advanced pancreatic cancer in adults whose cancer is:
For this use, Tarceva is taken with the chemotherapy drug gemcitabine (Gemzar, Infugem). This drug combination is prescribed for adults who have not received chemotherapy for their pancreatic cancer.
pancreatic cancer explained
Pancreatic cancer occurs when cells in the pancreas grow and multiply (produce more cells) faster than usual. Pancreatic cancer usually doesn’t cause symptoms until it spreads and becomes more advanced.
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer can include:
To learn more about cancer, you can consult Today’s medical news cancer center.
Effectiveness for pancreatic cancer
Tarceva is effective in treating the type of pancreatic cancer described above. The Comprehensive National Cancer Network recommended treat pancreatic cancer with erlotinib (the active ingredient in Tarceva) and gemcitabine.
To find out more about Tarceva’s performance in clinical trials, see the drug fact sheet prescribing information. And if you’re wondering if Tarceva is right for you, talk to your doctor.
Tarceva and the children
Tarceva is not approved for use in children. It is not known whether the drug is safe or effective for children with NSCLC or pancreatic cancer.