If you have pancreatic cancer or non-small cell lung cancer, your healthcare provider may recommend Tarceva. Unapproved ("off-label") uses for the drug include the treatment of squamous cell head and neck cancer.
Tarceva® (erlotinib) is a prescription medication that belongs to a class of drugs known as tyrosine kinase inhibitors. It is approved to treat advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and pancreatic cancer.
Tarceva is approved to treat non-small cell lung cancer that has advanced or spread to other areas of the body (metastasized).
Lung cancer occurs when malignant (cancer) cells begin to grow in the tissues of the lung. There are two main types of lung cancer: small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer is the more common type. It generally spreads more slowly than small cell lung cancer.
Tarceva is approved as "first-line" therapy (the first medication to be tried) for metastatic NSCLC tumors that have epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) exon 19 deletions or exon 21 (L858R) substitution mutations (these mutations are found using lab tests).
Tarceva is also used in people with non-small cell lung cancer whose disease has not spread or grown after four cycles of treatment with certain types of chemotherapy known as "platinum-based" chemotherapy (such as cisplatin or carboplatin). This is known as maintenance treatment.
Tarceva is also used to treat people with non-small cell lung cancer whose cancer has progressed or spread after treatment with at least one chemotherapy medication. This is known as second- or third-line treatment.
Tarceva is approved for monotherapy use in NSCLC, which means it is not intended for use in combination with other chemotherapy medicines.