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Tarceva is prescribed as a primary treatment for patients with locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) driven by common epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). It is also used in combination with gemcitabine for patients with advanced-stage pancreatic cancer.

BrandTarceva150mg30 Tablets99999Roche1904

Tarceva (generic name: erlotinib) is a Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor (TKI) monotherapy prescribed for the treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in patients whose tumors are driven by common epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene-activating mutations. EGFR is a protein that stimulates cell growth, and a mutation in the gene for EGFR can cause cancer. Comprehensive next-generation sequencing (NGS) tests are used to detect EGFR mutations. 

Tarceva in chemotherapy along with gemcitabine monotherapy (GEM) is also indicated for patients with advanced pancreatic cancer. GEM is recommended for patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer but its therapeutic effect is hampered by its rapid metabolism and drug resistance. Therefore, GEM-based combination therapy (gemcitabine plus Tarceva) is recommended because of the significant improvements in patient outcomes.


Do not drink grapefruit juice or eat grapefruit. It is advisable to stop smoking before starting treatment with Tarceva.

Serious side effects

This medication has been prescribed because your healthcare provider has judged that the benefits are greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects. 

In the treatment of NSCLC, Tarceva can cause serious side effects, including:

  • interstitial lung disease (ILD) with symptoms such as:
    • shortness of breath
    • cough
    • Fever
  • liver and kidney problems
  • gastrointestinal (GI) perforation
  • blistering and skin peeling
  • bleeding and blood clotting problems – tell your doctor if you are taking blood thinners, such as warfarin
  • serious or ongoing diarrhea, nausea, loss of appetite, or vomiting
  • eye problems (dry eyes, unusual eyelash growth, swelling of the cornea).

In any such event, call your healthcare provider or pharmacist as soon as possible.

Common side effects

Common side effects of Tarceva for treating NSCLC include:

  • diarrhea
  • weakness
  • rash
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • loss of appetite.

The common side effects of Tarceva in pancreatic cancer treatment include:

  • fatigue
  • rash
  • nausea
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhea.

In any such cases, if the side effects persist for several days, or get worse, consult with your healthcare provider or pharmacist.

Adenocarcinoma subtype of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) – otherwise known as epidermal growth factor receptor [EGFR]-positive lung cancer – represents about 10-15% of lung cancer cases in the United States, even amongst patients who have no smoking history. 

Patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)  that have specific types of mutations of the EGFR gene are prescribed Tarceva as an EGFR targeted tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI). 

Tarceva is prescribed for patients with stage 4 lung cancer whose cancer has metastasized. Tarceva is not meant to be used at the same time as certain types of chemotherapy for NSCLC.

Tarceva is approved for advanced-stage pancreatic cancer (PCa), a highly aggressive lethal neoplasm, which is the fourth most common cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Tarceva in combination with gemcitabine is prescribed for patients with PCa whose cancer has spread, grown, or cannot be surgically removed and who have not previously received chemotherapy.

Gemcitabine monotherapy (GEM) is recommended for patients with metastatic disease or locally advanced disease, but its therapeutic effect is hampered by its rapid metabolism and drug resistance. As a result, GEM-based combination therapy (gemcitabine plus Tarceva ) is recommended for advanced PCa because of its significant effectiveness and safety.


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