Tarceva® (Erlotinib) is used to treat people with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) genetic mutation, and pancreatic cancer in combination with another medication, gemcitabine (Gemzar®).
Tarceva® (Erlotinib) is used to treat people with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) genetic mutation, and pancreatic cancer in combination...
Page 1 ERLOTINIB ORAL CHEMOTHERAPY EDUCATION Name of your medication Generic name — erlotinib (er LOH tih nib) Brand name — Tarceva® (tar SEE vuh) Approved uses Erlotinib is used to treat people with metastatic non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) genetic mutation, and pancreatic cancer in combination with another medication, gemcitabine (Gemzar®). Dose and schedule Taking erlotinib as instructed is important to allow your treatment to be as effective as possible, so here are some key points to remember. Your dose may vary, but the usual dose of erlotinib is 150 milligrams (150 mg) for NSCLC and 100 mg for pancreatic cancer to be taken by mouth once daily. The dose may be adjusted by your care provider based on your individual needs. Erlotinib must be taken without food (at least one hour before or two hours after a meal or snack) at the same time each day. Erlotinib should be taken whole and not crushed, cut, or dissolved. If you are unable to swallow erlotinib, talk to your care provider or pharmacist for possible options. If you miss a dose of erlotinib, do not take an extra dose or two doses at one time. Simply take your next dose at the regularly scheduled time. Be sure to write down if you miss a dose and let your care provider know about any missed doses. Drug and food interactions Erlotinib has many drug interactions. Inform your care providers of all prescription medications, over the counter medications, vitamins, and herbal products that you are taking. Medications that decrease stomach acid decrease erlotinib concentrations. Avoid use with proton pump inhibitors (e.g., omeprazole [Prilosec®], esomeprazole [Nexium®]), if possible. If taken with a histamine blocker (e.g., ranitidine [Zantac®], famotidine [Pepcid®]), take erlotinib 10 hours after the histamine blocker and at least 2 hours prior to the next histamine blocker dose. If taken with an antacid (e.g., calcium carbonate [Tums®], magnesium hydroxide, [Rolaids®]), separate erlotinib from the antacid by several hours. Grapefruit or grapefruit juice may interact with erlotinib; avoid eating or drinking these during treatment with erlotinib. Talk with your care team or pharmacist before taking new medications or supplements, or receiving any vaccines. ERLOTINIB ORAL CHEMOTHERAPY EDUCATION Page 2 Storage and handling Handle erlotinib with care. Just like when chemotherapy is given into the vein, this drug can be toxic, and exposure of the drug to others should be limited. Store erlotinib at room temperature (68°F–77°F) in a dry location away from light. Keep erlotinib out of reach of children and pets. Leave erlotinib in the provided packaging until it is ready to be taken. Whenever possible, give erlotinib to yourself and follow the steps below. If a family member, friend, or caregiver needs to give erlotinib to you, they also need to follow these steps: 1. Wash hands with soap and water. 2. Put on gloves to avoid touching the medication. (Gloves are not necessary if you give the drug to yourself.) 3. Gently transfer the erlotinib from its package to a small medicine or other disposable cup. 4. Administer the medicine immediately by mouth with water. 5. Remove gloves and do not use them for anything else. 6. Throw gloves and medicine cup in household trash. 7. Wash hands with soap and water. If a daily pill box or pill reminder will be used, contact your care team before using: • The person filling the box or reminder should wear gloves (gloves are not necessary if you are filling the box or reminder). • When empty, the box or reminder should be washed with soap and water before refilling. Be sure to wash hands with soap and water after the task is complete, whether or not gloves are worn If you have any unused erlotinib, do not throw it in the trash and do not flush it down the sink or toilet. Talk to your care provider or pharmacist about proper disposal of erlotinib. If you are traveling, put your erlotinib’s packaging in a sealed plastic bag. Ask your pharmacist if any additional travel precautions are needed. ERLOTINIB ORAL CHEMOTHERAPY EDUCATION Page 3 Side Effects of Erlotinib Below are common side effects that have been known to happen in about one third or more of patients taking erlotinib are listed on the left side of this table. You MAY NOT experience these side effects. Options to help manage any side effects that do occur are included on the right side of this table. These should be discussed with your care provider. If you experience any side effect you cannot manage or that is not listed here, contact your care provider. Possible Side Effect Management Acne like rash A rash that looks like acne may appear on your face, chest, and upper back while taking this medication. • Your doctor may prescribe medication to help prevent or manage the rash. • If you get a rash, keep the area around it clean and dry. • Check with your care provider before using anything to treat it. • Do not use over the counter acne treatments, such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, and soaps containing alcohol. • Oatmeal baths and unscented moisturizers may help with itching. Sunlight can make symptoms worse. • Avoid sun exposure as much as possible to decrease the risk of sunburn. The highest exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation occurs from 10 am–4 pm. • Wear long sleeved clothing, with UV protection if possible. • Wear broad brimmed hats. • Apply broad spectrum sunscreen (UVA/UVB) with at least SPF 30 as often as directed on the bottle. • Use lip balm with at least SPF 30. Diarrhea (loose and/ or urgent bowel movements) Monitor how many bowel movements you have each day. • Drink 8–10 glasses of water or fluid each day unless your care provider has instructed you to limit your fluid intake related to some other health problem. • Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day rather than a few large meals. • Eat bland, low fiber foods (e.g., bananas, applesauce, potatoes, chicken, rice, toast). • Avoid high fiber foods, such as raw vegetables, raw fruits, and whole grains. • Avoid foods that cause gas, such as broccoli and beans. • Avoid lactose containing foods, such as yogurt and milk. • Avoid spicy, fried, and greasy foods. Contact your provider if any of the following occur: • The number of bowel movements you have in a day increases by four or more. • You feel dizzy or lightheaded. Your care provider may recommend an over the counter medication called loperamide (Imodium®) to help with your diarrhea, but talk to your care provider before starting this medication. Continued on the next page ERLOTINIB ORAL CHEMOTHERAPY EDUCATION Page 4 Possible Side Effect Management Nausea or vomiting • Eat and drink slowly. • Drink 8–10 glasses of water or fluid each day unless your care provider has instructed you to limit your fluid intake. • Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day rather than a few large meals. • Eat bland foods; avoid spicy, fried, and greasy foods. • Avoid vigorous exercise immediately after eating. • Don’t lie down immediately after eating. • Avoid strong odors. Let your provider know if you experience nausea or vomiting. Your provider may prescribe medication that can help. Fatigue You may be more tired than usual or have less energy. • Stay as active as possible, but know it is okay to rest as needed. • Try to do some activity every day. • Plan your activities, and do them at a time of day when you feel a bit more energetic. • Avoid operating heavy machinery if you feel too tired. Rash or itchy skin • Keep your skin moisturized with creams and moisturizing lotions to decrease the risk of rash or itchiness, and wear loose fitting clothing. • Avoid using perfumes and cologne as these products may increase rash symptoms. • Avoid being in the heat for long periods of time. • Your provider may recommend an over the counter antihistamine or a topical cream. Sunlight can make symptoms worse. • Avoid sun exposure as much as possible to decrease the risk of sunburn. The highest exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation occurs from 10 am–4 pm. • Wear long sleeved clothing, with UV protection if possible. • Wear broad brimmed hats. • Apply broad spectrum sunscreen (UVA/UVB) with at least SPF 30 as often as directed on the bottle. If your rash or itching continues to worsen, contact your care provider. Changes in liver function Your liver function will be checked periodically by a simple blood test. Contact your care provider if you notice any of the following: • Yellowing of the skin or whites of your eyes • Dark or brown urine • Unusual bleeding or bruising Continued on the next page ERLOTINIB ORAL CHEMOTHERAPY EDUCATION Page 5 Possible Side Effect Management Cough or shortness of breath A cough that does not produce any mucous or congestion relief (dry cough) may occur while taking this medication. If you experience any breathing problems or shortness of breath, notify your care provider immediately. This may be a serious side effect of the medication. Decreased appetite or weight loss Talk to your provider if you notice a decrease in your weight while taking this medication. When you don’t feel like eating, try the following: • Eat small frequent meals instead of three large meals each day. • Keep snacks nearby so you can eat when you feel hungry. • Drink liquid nutritional supplements. Drink 8–10 glasses of water or fluid each day, especially if you are not eating, unless your care provider has instructed you to limit your fluid intake. Increased risk for infection or fever Contact your care provider if you experience any signs or symptoms of an infection such as: • Fever (temperature higher than 100.4°F or 38°C) • Chills • Sore throat • Burning with urination • Unusual tiredness • A sore that becomes red, is draining, or does not heal Check with your care provider before taking any medicine for a fever or chills. Serious side effects of erlotinib Erlotinib may be harmful to your kidneys. Speak to your care provider ito know when you need to have laboratory tests done to monitor your kidneys. If you get this side effect, your doctor may change your dose or stop treatment for some time. Tell your doctor right away if you get high fever, nausea, vomiting, severe abdominal pain. Erlotinib can increase your risk of having a stroke. Be aware of the signs of a stroke and seek medical attention immediately at the first sign of a stroke. Erlotinib can be harmful to the red blood cells in your body. Alert your care provider if you are feeling unusually tired, weak, or short of breath. Erlotinib may be harmful to your eyes. Be sure to inform your care provider of any issue you have with your vision, or pain in your eyes. Your provider may stop treatment with erlotinib if your eyes are affected. If you are taking warfarin while taking erlotinib you are at a much higher risk of bleeding. Be sure to regularly have your INR checked and seek medical attention at any signs of bleeding. ERLOTINIB ORAL CHEMOTHERAPY EDUCATION Page 6 If you experience ANY uncontrolled side effect, call your physician or healthcare center immediately: (INSTITUTIONAL CONTACT INFO) Handling body fluids and waste Erlotinib remains in your body for several days after it is taken, so some of the drug may be present in urine, stool, sweat, or vomit. Once you have started to take erlotinib, it is important to follow the instructions below every day for as long as your treatment lasts. This will keep yourself, loved ones, and the environment as safe as possible. Pregnant women should avoid touching anything that may be soiled with body fluids from the patient. Toilet and septic systems • You may use the same toilet, septic tank, and/or sewer that you usually use. If you have a low flow toilet, close the lid and flush twice to ensure all waste has been discarded. • If the toilet or toilet seat becomes soiled with urine, stool, or vomit, clean the surfaces before other people use the toilet. • Wash hands with soap and water after using the toilet. If you need a bedpan, be sure your caregiver knows to wear gloves to assist with cleanup and to wash the bedpan with soap and water every day. If you do not have good control of bladder or bowels, use a disposable pad with a plastic back, a diaper, or a sheet to absorb body waste. Wash any skin that has been exposed to body waste or erlotinib with soap and water. Linens or clothing that are soiled with body fluids or body waste should be washed separately from other linens and clothing. If you do not have a washer, place the soiled linens in a plastic bag until they can be washed. Wash hands with soap and water after touching linens or clothing that may be soiled with body fluids. Pregnancy, sexual activity, and contraception Women should not become pregnant and men should not get a partner pregnant while taking erlotinib. Men and women of childbearing age and potential should use effective contraception during therapy and for a minimum of one month after the last dose of erlotinib. Effective contraception could include one or more of the following: oral contraceptive, barrier methods, etc. Do not breastfeed while taking erlotinib and for two weeks after the last dose of erlotinib. Inform your care provider if you become pregnant. It is safe to hug and kiss. Special precautions may be needed for sexual activity while on erlotinib, and you are encouraged to ask your care provider. ABIRATERONE ORAL CHEMOTHERAPY EDUCATION Page 7 ERLOTINIB Important notice: The Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC), Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association (HOPA), National Community Oncology Dispensing Association, Inc. (NCODA), and Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) have collaborated in gathering information for and developing this patient education guide. This guide represents a brief summary of the medication derived from information provided by the drug manufacturer and other resources. This guide does not cover all existing information related to the possible uses, directions, doses, precautions, warnings, interactions, adverse effects, or risks associated with this medication and should not substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional. Provision of this guide is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or imply endorsement, recommendation, or favoring of this medication by ACCC, HOPA, NCODA, or ONS, who assume no liability for and cannot ensure the accuracy of the information presented. The collaborators are not making any representations with respect to the medications whatsoever, and any and all decisions, with respect to such medications, are at the sole risk of the individual consuming the medication. All decisions related to taking this medication should be made with the guidance and under the direction of a qualified healthcare professional. Permission: Oral Chemotherapy Education (OCE) sheets are provided as a free educational resource for patients with cancer in need of concise, easy to understand information about oral cancer drugs. Healthcare providers are permitted to copy and distribute the sheets to patients as well as direct patients to the OCE website for information. However, commercial reproduction or reuse, as well as rebranding or reposting of any type, are strictly prohibited without permission of the copyright holder. Please email permission requests and licensing inquiries to
Last Updated: 19 August 2021
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