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Alimta versus Tarceva


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I was just told they are switching my chemo - my blood counts are taking a big hit with the carboplatin and gemzar.

My onc suggested Alimta but also said we could try Tarceva. I said okay to the Alimta since he suggests the side effects are minimal and I had no problems except blood counts with my other chemo.

He said Tarceva causes severe rash on the face.

I hope I made the right choice. Those of you who have had experience with either, please let me know.



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Well, Lucie is undergoing Alimta treatment right now (has had 4 cycles) and although she is doing okay, there are several on this board who are not fairing as well on the side effects. We have had no experience with Tarceva, which is a pill instead of an IV. Don

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Everyone is different in how they handle things. For John, the Alimta is much, much worse than tarceva. The tarceva was a daily pill with minimal side effects. The rash was nothing compared to what he is going through now. I assume that your next step following Alimta will be tarceva so I guess it just depends on what order you want to go. I hope you do well on Alimta.


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My mom took Tarceva and had extremely dry skin (common) and a rash on her backside. When the Carbo/Taxol combo stopped working her onco said the next best thing was Alimta (my mom did Tarceva as a first-line chemo) but he would strongly recommend against it because it is VERY hard on the kidneys. My mother was an end-stage renal disease patient and on dialysis. She still had kidney function, though, and we had to make a decision whether or not to go for treatment and lost what little kidney function she had. We decided to go for another line of chemo, which basically didn't have a chance to work because her cancer progressed very quickly.

Anyway, my mom always said that the rahs was tolerable, although annoying, and if Tarceva worked, it was well worth it. She got some very good tips for controlling it from this board; as a matter of fact, her first post was asking about her rash.

Good luck to you,

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Hi Mary,

I'm on Tarceva (comes in pill form/take it once a day) and have had very good success as well as minimal side effects. I did develop the rash (was not painful or anything) in the beginning but it went away not too long after that and have not had it since. I did develop constant diarrhea also and had gone from 150MG to 100MG and that cleared that up. Everyone is different and everyone reacts differently. To me if the treatment works and the side effects are manageable is all that really matters, one can always start and if it is too much can stop. Might want to ask the doctor what about going with Tarceva first and Alimta second to see what he says just to put your mind at ease. Hope this helps, prayers for the best.


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IMO, Alimta has turned out to be a much harsher chemotherapeutic agent than originally promoted. Tarceva is much easier on the RBC levels. My wife rarely needed Procrit while on monotherapy with Tarceva. Now that she is back on combination chemo tx her RBC related #s are much lower and she gets 60,000 units of Procrit every week. The only hematology related issue that I have discovered with Tarceva is that it can cause an unpredictable elevation in some of the liver function levels.


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