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Side Effects of Lapatinib

Common side effects of lapatinib include hand-and-foot syndrome, nausea, and diarrhea. However, studies suggest that most of these side effects are actually caused by capecitabine or letrozole (drugs that are used with lapatinib). There are also potentially serious lapatinib side effects, such as severe constipation, bloody stool, and signs of an allergic reaction, that should be reported to your healthcare provider right away.

Side Effects of Lapatinib: An Introduction

As with any medicine, side effects are possible with lapatinib (Tykerb®); however, not everyone who takes the medication will experience side effects. In fact, most people tolerate it quite well. If side effects do occur, in most cases, they are minor and either require no treatment or can easily be treated by you or your healthcare provider.
(This article covers many, but not all, of the possible side effects with lapatinib. Your healthcare provider can discuss a more complete list of lapatinib side effects with you.)

Common Side Effects of Lapatinib

Lapatinib has been studied thoroughly in clinical trials, in which a group of people taking the drug have side effects documented. Lapatinib is always used in combination with capecitabine (Xeloda®) or letrozole (Femara®). In these studies, the most common side effects of lapatinib when used in combination with capecitabine or letrozole included:
  • Diarrhea -- in up to 65 percent of people (see Chemotherapy-Induced Diarrhea)
  • Hand-and-foot syndrome (redness and tenderness of the palms and soles) -- up to 60 percent
  • Low hemoglobin levels (indicative of anemia) -- up to 56 percent (see Chemotherapy and Anemia)
  • Increased liver enzymes -- up to 53 percent
  • Increased bilirubin levels in the blood -- up to 45 percent
  • Nausea -- up to 44 percent
  • Rash -- up to 44 percent
  • Vomiting -- up to 26 percent.
Other common side effects of lapatinib with capecitabine or letrozole (occurring in 10 to 20 percent of people) included:
Many of these side effects are due mostly or entirely to capecitabine or letrozole, not to lapatinib. In fact, nausea, hand-and-foot syndrome, and low hemoglobin levels are almost as common in people taking just capecitabine as in those taking both capecitabine and lapatinib, and are not at all common in people taking lapatinib with letrozole, which suggests that these side effects are not caused by lapatinib.
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