Erlotinib is an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitor that is used to treat a variety of cancers, including non-small cell lung cancer and pancreatic cancer. It’s usually sold under the brand name Tarceva. Erlotinib binds reversibly to the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase at the receptor’s adenosine triphosphate (ATP) binding site. The latest research shows that Erlotinib is a powerful inhibitor of JAK2V617F, a mutant version of the tyrosine kinase JAK2 present in most individuals with PV and a significant proportion of patients with idiopathic myelofibrosis or essential thrombocythemia. These results suggest that Erlotinib could be used to treat JAK2V617F-positive PV and other myeloproliferative diseases.
How Erlotinib Works
Centuries of research and countless studies are required to successfully operate the targeted therapy that differentiates between cancer cells and healthy cells. Since cancer cells’ characteristics are that they divide quickly, cancer treatment has mostly focused on killing rapidly dividing cells. However, rapid division of some of our normal cells can also be seen, resulting in various negative consequences.
The goal of targeted therapy is to find the cancer cell properties. Scientists hunt for distinct differences between cancerous and healthy cells. This data is utilized to develop a specific and targeted medicine that attacks cancer cells while sparing healthy cells, resulting in fewer adverse effects. Targeted therapies function differently, but they all interfere with the cancer cell’s capacity to grow, divide, repair, and communicate with other cells.
The main target of Erlotinib is a protein, EGFR, which blocks tumor cell growth. The cancer cells contain EGFR protein on their surface. Moreover, some healthy cells also have this protein. Erlotinib works by inhibiting a cell enzyme called tyrosine kinase, linked to EGFR. But the exact mechanism of this inhibition is unknown. More research is being done to determine which malignancies are best treated with targeted medicines and find new targets for more cancer types.
Why is Erlotinib prescribed?
Erlotinib is prescribed to treat non-small cell lung cancer that has progressed to surrounding tissues or other body sections in patients who have failed to respond to at least one other chemotherapy medication. The combination of Erlotinib and other drugs (gemcitabine [Gemzar) is often prescribed and used to treat pancreatic cancer that has reached surrounding tissues or different sections of the body and is resistant to surgery. Erlotinib belongs to the kinase inhibitor class of drugs. It acts by preventing an aberrant protein from causing cancer cells to proliferate. This slows or stops cancer cells from further growth.
How should Erlotinib be used?
Oral tablets of Erlotinib are available that must be taken by mouth. Its recommended dose is once daily on an empty stomach. Or it can be taken 1 or 2 hours before eating a meal or snacks. Take erlotinib each day at the same time. Follow the instructions on your prescription label carefully, and if there is anything you don’t understand, ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain it to you. Erlotinib should be taken precisely as prescribed. Do not change its dose and dosing frequency, or take it more often than your doctor has suggested.
Throughout your therapy, your doctor may reduce your Erlotinib dosage. It is dependent on how well the drug works for you and whether or not you have any negative effects. Discuss your concerns with your doctor throughout your therapy. If you are satisfied and feel well, keep taking Erlotinib. Do not discontinue Erlotinib without consulting your doctor first.
Side Effects of Erlotinib
The following are the most common side effects of Erlotinib that happen in more than 10 out of 100 people.
Skin issues like rash, dry skin, and itching are common examples. When your therapy is over, this normally returns to normal. The nurse will educate you on what things you may use to assist your skin. Cracked skin (skin fissures), edema around the fingernails, inflammation in the hair follicles, and acne are less prevalent. Your skin may become more pigmented, a condition called hyperpigmentation.
Increased risk of getting an infection
The decrease in the level of white blood cells increases the risk of infection. A change in temperature, aching muscles, headaches, feeling chilly and shivering, and feeling unwell are symptoms. Based on the area of the infection, you may have additional symptoms.
Infections may be serious in some situations. Call your support center right away if you suspect you have an infection.
Lowered appetite and weight loss
It might affect your appetite, and you may lose weight if you don’t eat properly. It is critical to consume as much food as possible. It may be simpler to manage if you eat multiple little meals and snacks throughout the day. If you’re worried about your hunger or weight loss, you must consult a dietician.
It would help if you remember the following things related to the side effects of Erlotinib:
- The majority of individuals do not suffer all of the mentioned negative effects.
- Considering the onset and duration, side effects are often expected.
- Most side effects are reversible and will disappear after therapy is completed.
- There are several strategies for reducing or eliminating adverse effects.
Precautions about Erlotinib
Before taking this medication, notify your doctor or pharmacist of any allergic reactions or hypersensitivity to Erlotinib or other allergies. Inactive chemicals in this product might cause allergic reactions or other complications. For further information, see your pharmacist.
Speak to your physician or pharmacist about your medical history, particularly if you have liver illness, renal disease, or stomach/intestinal disease (such as ulcers or diverticulosis).
Describe to your dentist and doctor in detail all the medicines you take before surgery (prescription medicines, nonprescription drugs, and nutraceuticals).
This medication has the potential to induce gastrointestinal bleeding. While using this prescription, drinking alcohol regularly may raise your risk of stomach bleeding. Limit your alcohol consumption.
Sunlight may aggravate any skin responses you may have while using this medication. Spend as little time as possible in the sun. Sunlamps and tanning salons should be avoided. When you’re outside, use sunscreen and wear protective gear.