Non- Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) patients whose cancer has not spread or grown after initial treatment with certain chemotherapies can be prescribed Tarceva, as a maintenance drug. However, there have been reports on possible effects on:

  1. Lungs
  2. Kidneys and liver
  3. Stomach and intestines
  4. Skin and
  5. Eyes

Minor Side Effects:

Mild-to-moderate rash, diarrhea, and changes in the skin were the most common side effects associated with the use of this medicine.

  1. Rashes-
  • Generally occur within 8 days from the commencement of the treatment; however, there have been cases, where they have erupted later.
  • Typically appear on the upper body or face
  • The rashes are not allergic reactions and may appear as acne or dry skin. However, these rashes should not be mistaken for acne as well, and the practitioner should be consulted at once, upon the eruption of rashes.
  1. Diarrhea-
  • Can occur within 12 days of starting Tarceva
  1. Hair and Nail changes have also been noticed with the use of this drug.

Major Side Effects:

Seek immediate medical attention, if following signs or symptoms appear:

  • Skin rash which are new or worsening
  • Continual diarrhea, nausea, loss of appetite, or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath or cough
  • Eye irritation

Other than the above mentioned discomforts, Tarceva is also known to cause:

Effects on Lungs- though rare but this drug has reported to cause interstitial lung disease- like events, which is a serious disorder of lungs.

Effects on Kidneys and Liversome patients have also complained of kidney or liver related issues. So in case one is suffering from any kind of kidney or liver related ailments, then the same should be discussed with the doctor before starting Tarceva.

Effects on Stomach and Intestines- people who are suffering from stomach or intestine related health issues, or patients taking Tarceva in combination with other drugs have at times, developed hole in the linings of these two organs. In such cases, though rare, but death has also been reported.

Effects on Skin- Tarceva has caused serious skin conditions which have even led to deaths. As mentioned earlier, rashes are common side effects of this drug, which can be mistaken for acne. Such kind of rashes should not be ignored, and discussed with the doctor at once. As a first aid, the affected area should be cleaned by a moist soap, followed by moisturizing the same. Exposure to sun should be avoided, and before moving out, a sunscreen with SPF 15 or more should be applied along with a hat. Over-the-counter acne treatments should be avoided and the make-up should be removed with gentle liquid cleansers.

Effects on Veins and Heart- Patients using a combination of Tarceva and gemcitabine were at a higher risk of suffering from bleeding or clotting problems such as heart attacks or strokes.

Effects on Eyes- Eye irritation and damage to cornea have also been associated with Tarceva. Abnormal eyelash growth, dry eyes, or variation in eyesight are the other problems reported due to Tarceva administration.

Any discomfort after starting this medicine should be discussed with the doctor immediately, before it gets worse and causes serious complications.