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Tarceva questions AND To Treat or Not to Treat?

gail p-m

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My father has had a small recurrence. It was originally picked up due to coughing up blood and a bronchoscopy seemed to relieve the symptom. The "spot" showed up on a PET but not on the CT after the bronchoscopy. We're going to the oncologist on Friday to discuss the option of waiting and watching vs. Tarceva. My father is elderly and had quite a tough time on chemo some time back. He has adenocarcinoma with BAC features and has been fortunate that this has tended to be slow growing thus far. Since Tarceva is relatively mild compared to regular chemos, I'm almost afraid of "using it up" on something small and wonder if we should wait until more cancer appears. On the other hand, my father seems to want to do something and is leaning towards the Tarceva. I guess there is no right or wrong for this one but I'd be interested in opinions.

I am also very intersted to hear of your experiences with Tarceva. How long do you typically take it before scans? Side effects? (From reading the posts that have come up with Tarceva, it seems that severe skin and scalp rashes are the worst side effect? How do you usually treat those? How successful was Tarceva in fighting your cancer? For those who Tarceva helped, how long did you use it before it lost its effectiveness, assuming it did. What else should I know about Tarceva that the oncologist might not mention? Are there any questions that I should ask?



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I was just taken off of Tarceva. But I must tell you that I agree w/your Dad and start it when the problem is small. Why wait until it is worse or has spread if you may be able to control it now?

Tarceva is taken once a day and is sooooooo much better than chemo. It held me stable for 6 months and before that Iressa held me stable for 6 months. The worst part about Tarceva is the rash and occassional diahrrea. I also experienced fatigue with it, but nothing major. My doctor gave me clyndomycin cream for the rash, which helped somewhat, but it really never completely went away.

It also can cause your eyes to become very dry as well as the inside of your nose. Uncomfortable, but not intolerable.

I was receiving CT scans every 2 months while on Tarceva. I was taken off it because my cancer found a new route around the targeted effects of Tarceva, but I think 6 months is a very good record and worth the try.

Good luck w/your decision.


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I had a recurrence after chemo and radiation last year. Started Tarceva in late December of 2004. I was scanned not quite a month later, and there was no evidence of disease. We're all different. But my vote is if Tarceva is going to work, it is going to work on disease both large and small.

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Hi Gail, I'm on Tarceva and have been on it since Feb05 and so far things are stable. If it was me I would start it. I started out @ 150MG but had to drop to 100MG because of diarrhea. Taken once a day. Some of the side effects are rash/acne/pimples, develops about 10 days or so after starting it. It seems to come and go. Of course everyone is different. Prayers for the best for your father and you. Rich

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