If you have certain types of cancer, your doctor might suggest Tarceva as a treatment option. It’s a prescription drug used to treat the following conditions in adults:
- non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that is metastatic (has spread from your lungs to other parts of your body) and has a certain epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutation
- pancreatic cancer that is metastatic, cannot be removed by surgery, or is locally advanced (has spread to your blood vessels and lymph nodes)
Your doctor may prescribe Tarceva as a first-time treatment or a long-term (maintenance) treatment for NSCLC. Your doctor may also prescribe Tarceva if your NSCLC has worsened after chemotherapy.
If you use Tarceva to treat pancreatic cancer, your doctor will likely also prescribe Infugem (gemcitabine), a chemotherapy drug.
Tarceva comes as a tablet you swallow. It belongs to the drug class called kinase inhibitors and contains the active ingredient erlotinib. (An active ingredient is what makes a drug work.)
This article describes the dosages of Tarceva, as well as its strengths and how to take it. To learn more about Tarceva, see this in-depth article.
Note: This chart highlights the basics of Tarceva’s dosage. Be sure to read on for more detail.
|NSCLC||150 milligrams (mg)||once daily|
|pancreatic cancer||100 mg||once daily|
Please keep in mind that this article covers Tarceva’s standard dosage schedule, which is provided by the drug’s manufacturer. But always follow the dosing instructions your doctor prescribes.
This section describes the typical dosages for Tarceva.
What is Tarceva’s form?
Tarceva comes as a tablet that you swallow.
What strengths does Tarceva come in?
Tarceva comes in three strengths:
- 25 milligrams (mg)
- 100 mg
- 150 mg
What are the usual dosages of Tarceva?
The information below describes dosages that are commonly used or recommended. But be sure to take the dosage your doctor prescribes for you. They’ll determine the best dosage to fit your needs.
Dosage for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
The recommended dosage to treat NSCLC is 150 mg of Tarceva taken once per day. You’ll likely continue to take the drug until your NSCLC gets worse or you experience unmanageable side effects.
Dosage for pancreatic cancer
The recommended dosage to treat pancreatic cancer is 100 mg of Tarceva taken once per day. You’ll likely continue to take the drug until your pancreatic cancer gets worse or you experience unmanageable side effects. Your doctor will likely prescribe Infugem (gemcitabine), a chemotherapy drug, to take along with Tarceva.
Is Tarceva used long term?
Yes, Tarceva is usually used as a long-term treatment. If you and your doctor determine that it’s safe and effective for your condition, you’ll likely take it long term.
If you take certain other medications, your doctor may increase or decrease your Tarceva dosage. Tell your doctor before you start or stop any other drugs.
If you smoke cigarettes while taking Tarceva, your doctor may increase your Tarceva dosage. Tell your doctor if you smoke cigarettes and if you stop smoking while taking Tarceva.
The dosage of Tarceva you’re prescribed may depend on several factors. These include:
- the condition you’re using the drug to treat
- other medications you take
- if you smoke tobacco
- other conditions you may have (see “Dosage adjustments” just above)
Tarceva is a tablet that is taken by mouth. You should swallow the tablet whole on an empty stomach. (An empty stomach is considered 1 hour before or 2 hours after eating food.)
For information on the expiration, storage, and disposal of Tarceva, see this article.
Accessible drug containers and labels
If you find it hard to read the prescription label on your medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist. Some pharmacies provide medication labels that:
- have large print or use braille
- feature a code you can scan with a smartphone to change the text to audio
Your doctor or pharmacist may be able to recommend pharmacies that offer these accessibility features if your current pharmacy doesn’t.
If you have trouble opening medication bottles, let your pharmacist know. They may be able to supply Tarceva in an easy-open container. They may also have tips to help make it simpler to open the drug’s container.
If you miss a dose of Tarceva, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it’s close to when you would take your next dose, do not take the dose you missed. Do not take two doses in one day to make up for a missed dose.
If you’re unsure whether to take the dose you missed, call your doctor or pharmacist.
If you need help remembering to take your dose of Tarceva on time, try using a medication reminder. This can include setting an alarm or downloading a reminder app on your phone.
Only take the Tarceva dosage your doctor prescribes. If you take too much of the drug, your doctor will likely stop your Tarceva treatment for a certain amount of time.
What to do in case you take too much Tarceva
Call your doctor right away if you think you’ve taken too much Tarceva. You can also call 800-222-1222 to reach the American Association of Poison Control Centers or use its online resource. But if you have severe symptoms, immediately call 911 (or your local emergency number) or go to the nearest emergency room.
The sections above describe the usual dosages provided by the drug’s manufacturer. If your doctor recommends Tarceva for you, they’ll prescribe the dosage that’s right for you.
Remember, you should not change your dosage of Tarceva without your doctor’s recommendation. Only take Tarceva exactly as prescribed. Talk with your doctor if you have questions or concerns about your current dosage. Here are some examples of questions you may want to ask:
- Does my dosage of Tarceva need to change if I’m taking other drugs along with it?
- Does the time of day I take Tarceva need to change if I take other medications?
- Does my dosage need to change if I’m having side effects?
Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.