Cancer Home > What Is Erlotinib Used For?
The primary uses of erlotinib are the treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer and pancreatic cancer. As a tyrosine kinase inhibitor, erlotinib works by blocking the action of a certain protein in the body, which helps to slow down the growth and spread of the cancer. Because it has not been studied adequately in children, the medication is currently approved for use in adults only.
Erlotinib (Tarceva®) is a prescription medication that belongs to a class of drugs known as tyrosine kinase inhibitors. It is approved to treat advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and pancreatic cancer.
Erlotinib is approved to treat non-small cell lung cancer that has advanced or spread to other areas of the body (metastasized).
Lung cancer occurs when malignant (cancer) cells begin to grow in the tissues of the lung. There are two main types of lung cancer: small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer is the more common type. It generally spreads more slowly than small cell lung cancer.
Erlotinib is approved as "first-line" therapy (the first medication to be tried) for metastatic NSCLC tumors that have epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) exon 19 deletions or exon 21 (L858R) substitution mutations (these are found using lab tests).
Erlotinib is also used in people with non-small cell lung cancer whose disease has not spread or grown after four cycles of treatment with certain types of chemotherapy known as "platinum-based" chemotherapy (such as cisplatin or carboplatin). This is known as maintenance treatment.
Erlotinib is also used to treat people with non-small cell lung cancer whose disease has progressed or spread after treatment with at least one chemotherapy medication. This is known as second- or third-line treatment.
Erlotinib is approved for monotherapy use in NSCLC, which means it is not intended for use in combination with any other chemotherapy medicines.