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Tarceva, could anyone shed some light?

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Old 01-14-2007, 06:09 PM   #1
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malai HB User
Tarceva, could anyone shed some light?

My mom is going to be starting Tarceva and she was just diagnosed with non-small cell cancer. She is asian and my father saw that for some reason this drug is highly effective for asian woman. I understand that normally this drug is not used until after someone has gone through chemo & chemo has not worked. Looking to see if anyone knows more about this drug and how they feel about it. Has it worked to stop the cancer from spreading?

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Old 01-14-2007, 07:18 PM   #2
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Re: Tarceva, could anyone shed some light?

hi malai-

I am sorry to hear about your mom. My wife likewise has nsclc ...hers is stage 4. I have been very interested in Tarceva for sometime, however we have not tried yet because as you said it is generally used in the second line after chemo and perhaps other treatments have failed. From what I understand, it works best those who were non-smokers, women and more specifically asian women. I suspect asians more commonly have genetic favorability and/or tolerate the treatment well.

I have read about/ spoke with ....people who have been a year or more in remission from using Tarceva. A Sloan Kettering oncologist once said he had seen tumors shrink to nothing in as little as 5 days ...saying in some ways it is a miracle drug. However, if cancer returns after Tarceva then the drug will probably not be as effective if at all at that point. If Tarceva puts your mom in remission, I would make sure that you keep her as healthy and active as possible. Because in theory the cancer is still there. Keep her immune system strong.

Please keep us posted and let us know how she does. I pray for a good report.


Old 01-15-2007, 07:49 AM   #3
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rockie HB User
Re: Tarceva, could anyone shed some light?

Malai, JanMarie's mom was on Tarceva and it produced excellent results. My hubby was on it and besides a really bad rash, it didn't have any effect. So let's pray that your mom will do quite well. My hubby was an ex smoker so that might have had a lot to do with it, but we were willing to give it a try.

JanMarie will be able to share her experiences with you and I think you will find her knowledgeable and of great comfort.

Take care,

Old 01-15-2007, 10:11 AM   #4
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Re: Tarceva, could anyone shed some light?

Hi again.. my mother has been on Tarceva since March, and so far so good.. she has been very blessed to have responded well to the drug. I found out about Tarceva through JanMarie and this message board, so we were very fortunate because she was diagnosed as Stage 4. She has been doing well, and her scans have shown that she is in remission. Some minor side effects include digestion discomfort and skin irritations, but that is all. Also when she first started taking it she was very weak, but now she is back to her old self. I also read about the research that the Tarceva seems to be more effective for Asian women; there is a researcher at Sloan Kettering who is expert in treating patients with Tarceva and his name is Dr. William Pao. Good luck and God bless always, Kris

Old 01-15-2007, 04:52 PM   #5
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Re: Tarceva, could anyone shed some light?

Thank you all very much for the information. It's given me some comfort and something to hold on to. She goes for her PET scan on Thursday and then Tuesday she has an appointment for the results. I will keep you all posted. Once again, thank you all! Kris, I am happy to hear that your mother is doing well right now. Let's hope that continues.

Old 01-17-2007, 10:56 PM   #6
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Re: Tarceva, could anyone shed some light?


My mom took Tarceva. She was NSCLC stage 4 with mets to her liver. We knew within days that it was working as all her breathing trouble vanished and she felt better then she had in years. She had it after she had Carboplatin and Taxol. While in the end it did not save her life it did give her quality of life back until this last line of chemo wiped her out. The tarceva did away with her lung tumor and at first did away with some of her liver mets but then they started growing again so she was taken off it.The lung tumor never did come back and what a huge difference that made in her battle with lung cancer as she was never short of breath, or coughing up blood and for all we know it may have slowed down those liver mets. If she had not had liver mets she would be one of those people I have met that are 2, 3 4 yrs NED after starting Irressa or Tarceva. To be honest I think the chemo was more to blame for her death then the cancer as Taxotere and Gemzar (4th line chemo) left her so wiped out that she decided to quit the chemo and then just never gained her strength back. I think she died from a blood clot to her lung as she did not die of liver failure nor was she in liver failure which is how we alll expected her to die.

The Tarceva did give her a rash but hers was like teenage acne, it did dry out her skin , slow her hair growth ( she was bald from that first chemo) and it did cause her finger tips to crack and bleed but she considered that all a small price to pay for how good she felt. I know some people have a rougher time with the drug but my mom found it to be the easiest one.

My whole family will be forever thankful for Tarceva as it gave my mom her life back for about 1.5 yrs ( until the chemo started taking it away) . I pray that in the not too distant future that cancer will be treated with drugs like Tarceva and Avastin and that chemo will be a thing of the past.

Only abouut 10 percent benefit from Tarceva and yes it tends to work best in non smokers, women and asains. But that does not mean it doesn't work in others such as smokers or men or non asains. ( My mom was female and non smoker)
I will add your mom to my prayers and hope that she too can see such a great benefit from Tarceva. JanMarie

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