Erlotinib (By mouth)

Introduction

Erlotinib (er-LOE-ti-nib)

Used with other medicines to treat pancreatic cancer. Also treats non-small cell lung cancer that has not responded to other cancer medicines.

Brand Name(s)

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

Tarceva

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used

You should not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to erlotinib, or if you are pregnant.

How to Use This Medicine

Tablet

  • Medicines used to treat cancer are very strong and can have many side effects. Before receiving this medicine, make sure you understand all the risks and benefits. It is important for you to work closely with your doctor during your treatment.
  • Your doctor will tell you how much of this medicine to use and how often. Your dose may need to be changed several times in order to find out what works best for you. Do not use more medicine or use it more often than your doctor tells you to.
  • It is best to take this medicine on an empty stomach. Take the medicine at least 1 hour before eating or 2 hours after eating.

If a dose is missed:

  • If you miss a dose or forget to use your medicine, use it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then to use the medicine and skip the missed dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine

  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.
  • Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any leftover medicine after you have finished your treatment. You will also need to throw away old medicine after the expiration date has passed.
  • Keep all medicine away from children and never share your medicine with anyone.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are using nefazodone (Serzone®), St. John's wort, medicine for seizures (such as carbamazepine, phenobarbital, phenytoin, Dilantin®, or Tegretol®), medicine to treat an infection (such as ciprofloxacin, clarithromycin, itraconazole, ketoconazole, rifabutin, rifampin, rifapentine, telithromycin, troleandomycin, voriconazole, Biaxin®, Cipro®, Mycobutin®, Nizoral®, Priftin®, Rifadin®, Sporanox®, TAO®, or Vfend®), or a stomach medicine (such as omeprazole, ranitidine, Nexium®, Prevacid®, Prilosec®, or Zantac®).
  • Tell your doctor if you are also using medicine to treat HIV or AIDS (such as atazanavir, indinavir, nelfinavir, ritonavir, saquinavir, Crixivan®, Fortovase®, Norvir®, Reyataz®, or Viracept®), a blood thinner (such as warfarin, Coumadin®), a steroid medicine (such as dexamethasone, prednisolone, prednisone, or Medrol®), or a pain or arthritis medicine, sometimes called "NSAIDs" (such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, Advil®, Aleve®, Bextra®, Ecotrin®, or Motrin®).
  • Do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while you are using this medicine.
  • Avoid smoking cigarettes or using other tobacco products while you are using this medicine.

Warnings While Using This Medicine

  • Using this medicine while you are pregnant can harm your unborn baby. Use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant. If you think you have become pregnant while using the medicine, tell your doctor right away. You should continue to use birth control at least 14 days after you have stopped taking this medicine.
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are breastfeeding, or if you have kidney disease, liver disease, bleeding problems, eye or vision problems, stomach problems, or a history of lung disease or breathing problems, heart attack, or stroke.
  • Cancer medicines can cause severe or continuing diarrhea, nausea, loss of appetite, or vomiting in most people, sometimes even after receiving medicines to prevent it. Ask your doctor or nurse about other ways to control these side effects.
  • Call your doctor right away if you have unexplained shortness of breath, cough, and fever that comes on suddenly.
  • Check with your doctor right away if you have bloody or black, tarry stools; severe stomach pain; or vomiting of blood or material that looks like coffee grounds. These could be symptoms of a serious stomach or bowel problem.
  • Liver problems may occur while you are using this medicine. Stop using this medicine and check with your doctor right away if you are having more than one of these symptoms: abdominal pain or tenderness; clay-colored stools; dark urine; decreased appetite; fever; headache; itching; loss of appetite; skin rash; swelling of the feet or lower legs; unusual tiredness or weakness; or yellow eyes or skin.
  • Serious skin reactions can occur with this medicine. Check with your doctor right away if you have blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin; red skin lesions; severe acne or skin rash; sores or ulcers on the skin; or fever or chills while you are using this medicine.
  • You may use alcohol-free emollient creams, sunscreen, or sun blocking lotions to prevent dry skin and other serious skin reactions.
  • Check with your doctor right away if blurred vision, difficulty in reading, any other change in vision, or eye pain or irritation occurs during or after treatment. Your doctor may want you to have your eyes checked by an eye doctor.
  • Your doctor will need to check your blood or urine at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Be sure to keep all appointments.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing.
  • Blistering, peeling, or red skin rash.
  • Bloody or black, tarry stools.
  • Dark-colored urine or pale stools.
  • Eye redness, irritation, or pain.
  • Fever, chills, cough, sore throat, and body aches.
  • Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, or pain in your upper stomach.
  • Numbness or weakness in your arm or leg, or on one side of your body.
  • Severe or ongoing diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite.
  • Shortness of breath or worsening lung symptoms.
  • Sudden or severe headache, problems with vision, speech, or walking.
  • Swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet.
  • Unusual bleeding, bruising, or weakness.
  • Vomit that looks like coffee grounds.
  • Yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes.

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Acne or pimples.
  • Bone or muscle pain.
  • Dizziness or headache.
  • Dry eyes or skin.
  • Hair loss.
  • Mild diarrhea, constipation, gas, or stomach pain or upset.
  • Mild skin rash, itching, or dryness.
  • Sores or white patches on your lips, mouth, or throat.
  • Tiredness, anxiety, or depression.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Weight loss.

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Review Date: 2011-02-04 Reviewed By: Keywords: ,
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