Erlotinib is used to treat non-small cell lung cancer that has spread to nearby tissues or to other parts of the body in patients who have already been treated with at least one other chemotherapy medication and have not gotten better. Erlotinib is also used in combination with another medication (gemcitabine [Gemzar]) to treat pancreatic cancer that has spread to nearby tissues or to other parts of the body. Erlotinib is in a class of medications called kinase inhibitors. It works by blocking the action of an abnormal protein that signals cancer cells to multiply. This helps slow or stop the spread of cancer cells.
Erlotinib comes as a tablet to take by mouth. It is usually taken on an empty stomach once a day, at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after eating a meal or snack. Take erlotinib at around the same time every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take erlotinib exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Your doctor may decrease your dose of erlotinib during your treatment. This depends on how well the medication works for you and the side effects you experience. Talk to your doctor about how you are feeling during your treatment. Continue to take erlotinib even if you feel well. Do not stop taking erlotinib without talking to your doctor.
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Avoid eating grapefruit and drinking grapefruit juice while taking this medicine.
To prevent diarrhea that may be caused by erlotinib, drink small sips of a liquid such as a sugar-free sports drink often throughout the day, eat mild foods such as crackers and toast, and avoid spicy foods.
Take the next dose at your regular time the next day. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
loss of appetite
bone or muscle pain
numbness, burning, or tingling of the hands or feet
swelling of the arms, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
darkening of skin
changes in the appearance of the hair and nails
rash (may look like acne and may affect the skin on the face, upper chest, or back)
blistering, peeling, dry, or cracked skin
itching, tenderness, or burning of the skin
shortness of breath
fever or chills
growth of eyelashes on the inside of the eyelid
dry, red, painful, or irritated eyes
chest pain or pressure
pain in the arms, neck, or upper back
rapid, irregular, or pounding heartbeat
slow or difficult speech
dizziness or faintness
weakness or numbness of an arm or leg
unusual bruising or bleeding
black and tarry or bloody stools
vomit that is bloody or looks like coffee grounds
pale or yellow skin
redness, warmth, pain, tenderness, or swelling in one leg
Erlotinib may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online [at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch] or by phone [1-800-332-1088].
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.
In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor may order certain lab tests to check your body's response to erlotinib.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
Last Revised - 07/01/2009
AHFS® Consumer Medication Information. © Copyright, 2013. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.