Erlotinib, Tarceva

Erlotinib, Tarceva

This patient-friendly article is about chemotherapy drug, Erlotinib (Tarceva) is used with advanced cases of non-small cell lung cancer. The drug is a small molecule tyrosine-kinase inhibitor. It blocks cell signalling (triggered by epidermal growth factor receptors) thereby reducing cell proliferation. Its other important advantage is that it improves quality of life reducing shortness of breath, pain and coughing in advanced lung cancer cases. It is taken in tablet form. It is also sometimes used with other medications to treat pancreatic cancer. 

Side effects can include: skin rashes, diarrhoea, tiredness, conjunctivitis, sore mouth, possible gastro-intestinal bleeding.  

Important considerations:

* Do not take antacids before during or after (for up to 3 hours) when taking Tarceva.

* Avoid exposure to sunshine or tanning beds

* Avoid skin products that can cause dryness, especially alcohol-based products

* Avoid smoking - it can make Tarceva less effective

* Avoid grapefruit juice and grapefruit products which may interact with Tarceva.

Approved by

the Medical Board. 

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You should tell your Doctor if you are taking seizure drugs, St John’s Wort, steroids, anti-depressants, barbiturates, anti-fungal medicines, heart medicines and NSAIDS. This list is not complete and you should always consult your doctor before taking any other drugs.



Go to: 10 ways to improve your chemotherapy success and reduce side-effects


Other articles that you may find interesting are:

  1. A diet for Chemotherapy
  2. Immunotherapy overview
  3. A to Z Guide to Complementary Therapies

Go to: Return to the CANCERactive drug list


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