Erlotinib Tablets is used to cure some forms of non-small cell lung cancer that has spread to surrounding tissues or other areas of the body in patients that already have been treated with one or more chemotherapy drug and have not healed. Erlotinib is often used in combination with other medications to treat pancreatic cancer that has spread to surrounding tissues or other areas of the body and cannot be cured with the operation. Erlotinib is in a drug class called kinase inhibitors. It functions by preventing the action of an irregular protein that triggers the multiplication of cancer cells. This helps to delay or avoid the growth of cancer cells.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Erlotinib can cause some side effects. Talk to your doctor if some of these symptoms are severe or will not go away:
- lack of hunger
- constipation sores in the mouth
- weight loss
- Severe fatigue
- bone or muscle pain
- inflammation, burning or numbness of the hands or legs
- swelling of the arms, hands, legs, ankles or lower legs
- darkening of the skin
- hair loss
- change in the appearance of the nails and hair
Some of the adverse effects can be severe. If you have any of these signs, talk to your doctor instantly, or get immediate treatment:
- Rash (may look like acne and may affect the skin on the face, upper chest, or back)
- blistering, flaking, dry or cracking skin
- itching, tenderness or irritation
- fatigue or chilling
- growth of eyelids inside the eyelid
- extreme abdominal pain
- dry, red, sore, tearful or irritated eyes.
- blurry vision
- light sensitivity
- chest pain or discomfort
- pain in the arms, neck, or upper back
- rapid, irregular or pulse
- sluggish or difficult speech
- drowsiness or fainting
- weakness or numbness of the leg or arm
- severe bruises or bleeding
- dark and tarry or bloody stools
- vomit that is red or appears like coffee
- swollen eyes
- dry mouth
- reduced urine
- dark urine
- light or yellow skin
- blemishes, warmth, discomfort, tenderness or swelling of one leg
Erlotinib may have other side effects. Consult your doctor if you have any unusual problems taking this medicine.
NOTE: We strongly suggest you speak to your physician about your health condition and medications. The information on this website is intended to be useful and informative but is not a replacement for professional advice.
How should erlotinib tablets medicine be used?
Erlotinib comes as a capsule to be taken by the mouth. It is normally taken on an empty stomach once every day, at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal or a snack. Take erlotinib at around the same time each day. Read the directions on your medication label closely and ask your doctor or pharmacist to discuss any part you don't know. Take erlotinib just as instructed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more frequently than prescribed by a doctor.
Your doctor can reduce your dose of erlotinib during your therapy. This relies on how the drug works for you and the side of your experience. Speak to a doctor about how you feel about your medication. Keep taking erlotinib even though you feel good about it. Don't quit taking erlotinib without consulting a doctor.
- Before beginning treatment with erlotinib, be sure to inform your doctor about any drugs you are using (including prescription, over the counter, vitamins, herbal remedies, etc.). Certain drugs can interfere with the levels/effects of erlotinib. Your doctor must be aware of all medicines. Do not take aspirin or aspirin-containing drugs unless specifically authorized by your doctor.
- Do not undergo any form of immunization or vaccine without your doctor's permission when using erlotinib.
- Inform your healthcare professional if you are pregnant or could be pregnant before beginning this procedure. Class D pregnancy (erlotinib can be harmful to the fetus)
- For both males and females: do not conceive of a child (get pregnant) when consuming erlotinib. Barrier strategies for prevention, such as condoms, are suggested. Consult a doctor whether you are healthy to get pregnant or conceive of a baby after treatment.
- Do not breastfeed when on this medicine.
- Erlotinib must be taken with an empty stomach 1 hour before or 2 hours after feeding.
- Intake at least 2 - 3 quarters of liquid every 24 hours except as instructed.
- You might be at risk of being infected Report fever or any other symptoms of illness to your healthcare professional immediately.
- To effectively cure sore throats, use a soft toothbrush and clean with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of baking soda and/or 1/2 to 1 dash of salt combined with 8 ounces of water 3 times a day.
- To alleviate nausea, take anti-nausea medications as recommended by your doctor and consume small, regular meals.
- Avoid exposure to the sun. Wear SPF 15 (or higher) sunscreen and protective clothing.
- In general, alcoholic drinks should be minimized or fully avoided. You should talk to your doctor about this.
- Have a lot of rest.
- Maintain a healthy diet.
If you have symptoms or side effects, make sure to discuss them with your health care provider. They can suggest drugs and/or give other recommendations that help improve such issues.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
- Do not eat grapefruit and drink grapefruit juice when taking this drug.
- To relieve diarrhea that may be caused by erlotinib, drink small amounts of liquid such as a sugar-free protein shake often during the day, consume light foods such as crackers and toast, and avoid spicy foods.
What if you forget a dose?
Have the next dose at the normal time the next day. Do not take a double dosage to compensate for the missed dose.
What should I avoid while using erlotinib?
- Don't smoke
- Stop taking aspirin within a few hours pre or post taking erlotinib. Ask your doctor or pharmacist before taking medications to suppress stomach acid, such as cimetidine (Tagamet).
- Avoid the use of an herbal remedy including St. John's wort.
- Avoid exposure to sunshine or sunbeds. Erlotinib can induce severe rash, dry skin, or other inflammation. Wear personal protective equipment and use sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) while you're outdoors.
- Avoid the use of skin products that can trigger skin irritation or inflammation, such as acne remedies, rough soaps or skin cleansers, or alcohol-containing products.
Monitoring and Testing:
Your medical practitioner will check you daily when you are taking erlotinib, monitor your adverse effects, and check your responsiveness to your medication. Your doctor will also prescribe periodic blood work to check your full blood count (CBC) and the functioning of other organs (such as your liver and kidneys).
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