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Erlotinib Side Effects

If you are using erlotinib, it is important to be aware of potentially serious complications this medication may cause. Contact your healthcare provider right away if you develop serious side effects, such as chest pain, vomiting blood, or difficulty breathing or swallowing. Some of the more common problems reported with this cancer medication include weight loss, rash, and fatigue.

An Introduction to Erlotinib Side Effects

Just like any cancer medicine, erlotinib (Tarceva®) can cause side effects, some of which can be significant. Although not everyone who takes the medication will have problems, most people will have some type of adverse reaction during treatment. Talk to your healthcare provider about ways to manage any side effects you may experience.
 
(This article covers many, but not all, of the possible side effects with erlotinib. Your healthcare provider can discuss a more complete list with you.)
 

Serious Side Effects of Erlotinib

Some erlotinib side effects are potentially serious and should be reported to your healthcare provider right away. These include but are not limited to:
 
  • A rash of any kind
  • Blistering or peeling skin
  • Severe or ongoing diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, or stomach pain or swelling
  • Signs of infection (see Chemotherapy and Infections), such as:
 
    • Fever
    • Chills
    • Aches and pains
    • Sore throat
    • Cough
    • Nausea and vomiting
 
  • Breathing problems, shortness of breath, or a new or worsening cough
  • Mood changes, such as depression or anxiety
  • Vision or speech changes, weakness or numbness on one side of the body, or a severe headache
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Black, tarry, or bloody stools
  • Vomiting blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds
  • Swelling, tenderness, redness, or warmth in one or both legs
  • An irregular, rapid, or pounding heartbeat
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Decreased urination
  • Dry mouth, tiredness, and thirst
  • Eye irritation, including eye redness, dryness, pain, discharge, or ingrown eyelashes
  • Signs of liver problems, such as:
  •  
    • Yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes (jaundice)
    • Dark urine
    • Extreme tiredness
    • Pain on the right side of the stomach
 
  • Signs of an allergic reaction, such as:
  •  
    • An unexplained rash
    • Hives
    • Itching
    • Unexplained swelling, especially of the mouth, lips, or throat
    • Wheezing or difficulty breathing
    • Difficulty swallowing.
 
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Erlotinib Medication Information

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