Lung Cancer Home > Tarceva

Healthcare providers prescribe Tarceva for advanced cases of pancreatic cancer or lung cancer. This medication comes in the form of a tablet and is taken once a day. Common side effects include diarrhea, rash, and fatigue. When used for prostate cancer, Tarceva is not meant to be taken on its own, but rather combined with gemcitabine.

What Is Tarceva?

Tarceva® (erlotinib) is a prescription medication approved to treat late-stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that has not gotten better after treatment with at least one chemotherapy medication. It is also approved to treat advanced pancreatic cancer in combination with gemcitabine (Gemzar®), another cancer medication.
 
(Click Tarceva Uses for more information on this topic, including possible off-label uses.)
 

Who Makes This Medication?

Tarceva is made by Schwarz Pharma Manufacturing for OSI Pharmaceuticals, Inc. It is distributed by Genentech USA, Inc.
 

How Does It Work?

Kinases are proteins in the body that help regulate cell growth, among other things. Tarceva works by blocking the action of a specific tyrosine kinase known as epidermal growth factor receptor 1 (EGFR). EGFR tells cancer cells to grow and divide. Therefore, by blocking the action of EGFR, Tarceva can slow down or stop the growth of cancer cells.
 

Clinical Effects of Tarceva

In clinical studies, Tarceva has been shown to improve survival in people with NSCLC and pancreatic cancer. In one study, 31 percent of people who took Tarceva for advanced NSCLC were still alive after one year of treatment, compared with 22 percent of people with NSCLC who took a placebo (a "sugar" pill with no active ingredients).
 
In another study involving people with advanced cancer of the pancreas, 23 percent of those taking Tarceva plus gemcitabine were still living one year later, compared with 19 percent of those who just took gemcitabine.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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