Tarceva contains the active ingredient Erlotinib, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor that is prescribed for people with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) as a first line or maintenance treatment, and a second or third line treatment for advanced NSCLC. This is not a cure for lung cancer, but Tarceva and the generic alternative Erlotinib can slow the growth of the tumor and decrease the cancer cell’s ability to multiply. The generic alternative is not manufactured by the company that makes the brand product.
Many cancer cells have structures on their surfaces called epidural growth factor receptors (EGFR) that allows a protein to affix to the cells. This action then triggers tyrosine kinase, an enzyme in the cell, to send growth signals in cells so the cancer cells can multiply. Tarceva stops the EGFR from being activated by the tyrosine kinase enzyme and cancer cell numbers begin to drop as they are unable to grow and multiply.
Non-small cell lung cancer accounts for about 90% of lung cancers. There are three main sub-types grouped together because the treatment and prognosis is almost the same. Adenocarcinoma usually occurs in former and current smokers, but is also the most prevalent among non-smokers. This type of cancer starts in cells that secrete substances, like mucus. As it is a slow growing cancer, it is usually found before it can spread to the outer parts of your lung.
Large call carcinoma can appear in any part of your lung and has a tendency to grow and spread rapidly which makes it more difficult to treat. Squamous cell carcinoma is formed from round cells that have replaced damaged cells in the lung’s major airway. This type of NSCLC is linked to a history of smoking. When taken with a chemotherapy drug, Tarceva has shown a promising result in treating advanced pancreatic cancer when combined with a chemotherapy drug.
Your doctor may instruct you to use effective birth control while taking Tarceva and for at least one month after your last dose to avoid any harm to your unborn baby. Nursing mothers may have to start formula feeding while on Tarceva as it is unknown if it is excreted into breast milk.
Advise your physician of any other lung problems you have and whether you are a smoker. Your doctor should be aware of other health concerns you are dealing with and current OTC and Rx drugs you are taking, including supplements and naturopathic remedies, so it can be determined if Tarceva is the best medication for your situation.
Do not share this or any medications with others even if they have the same symptoms. You should not start, stop, or change the dosage of any of your current drugs without consent from your doctor. Until you know how Tarceva will affect you, avoid driving, operating machinery, or attempting any task that requires you to be mentally alert. If you are a smoker, you should talk to your doctor about how to quit before taking Tarceva or Erlotinib generic as the chemicals in cigarettes can decrease the effectiveness of this medicine.