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What Is Lapatinib Used For?

Lapatinib is used for treating HER2-positive cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. It is used in combination with another cancer medication to slow down the growth of cancer cells. The medicine is not approved for use in children, and there are currently no known off-label lapatinib uses.

What Is Lapatinib Used For? -- An Overview

Lapatinib (Tykerb®) is a prescription medication used to treat breast cancer. It belongs to a group of medications known as tyrosine kinase inhibitors.
 
Specifically, it is approved to be used in combination with capecitabine (Xeloda®) to treat HER2-positive cancer that has spread to other parts of the body in people who have tried other chemotherapy medications without success. It is also approved to be used in combination with letrozole (Femara®) for the treatment of postmenopausal women with metastatic, hormone receptor-positive breast cancer that overexpresses the HER2 receptor.  
 

Understanding Breast Cancer

Women in the United States get breast cancer more than any other type of cancer, except for skin cancer. Each year, more than 211,000 American women learn that they have breast cancer. Most breast cancer causes are not known. In 5 to 10 percent of these cases, there is a hereditary component. Common breast cancer symptoms include:
 
  • A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area
  • A change in how the breast or nipple feels
  • Nipple tenderness
  • A change in how the breast or nipple looks
  • A change in the size or shape of the breast
  • A nipple turned inward into the breast
  • Nipple discharge (fluid).
     
In general, breast cancer treatment options can include:
 
Lapatinib is generally considered to be a biological therapy. The best treatments can vary, depending on the stage of breast cancer (see Breast Cancer Treatment by Stage). Lapatinib is approved to treat breast cancers that have spread to other parts of the body (metastatic breast cancers) that overexpress HER2 (they have a high concentration of HER2 receptors). It should always be used in combination with capecitabine or letrozole. The combination of lapatinib and capecitabine should not be tried unless other chemotherapy medications have failed. Specifically, an anthracycline (a taxane) and trastuzumab (Herceptin®) should have already been tried. Anthracyclines include:
 
Taxanes include:
 
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Lapatinib for Breast Cancer

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