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Tykerb –Lapatinib - A Targeted Biologic Therapy for Metastatic Breast Cancer

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Updated August 12, 2012

What is Tykerb?:

Tykerb, generic name lapatinib, is a HER2 suppressor that targets an enzyme inside breast cancer cells, and blocks growth signals. It is an orange tablet that you take daily with other therapies. Tykerb can be taken with Xeloda, another oral chemotherapy drug, to extend survival and prevent the progression of advanced breast cancer.

Tykerb For Breast Cancer Treatment:

This drug is used to treat HER2 positive metastatic breast cancer, after a patient has already received an anthracycline (Adriamycin), a taxane (Taxol), and trastuzumab (Herceptin).

How Tykerb Works:

Tykerb is molecular inhibitor of a tyrosine kinase (a type of enzyme) called HER2. The Tykerb molecule finds a HER2 positive cancer cell, enters it, and blocks the cell's ability to respond to growth signals. When the cancer cells can't receive growth signals, they fail to divide, and disease progression is stopped.

How You Take Tykerb :

Tykerb comes in 250-mg tablets. The full daily dose is five tablets, or 1250-mg, taken on an empty stomach, at least one hour before or after a meal. Do not cut the tablets in half, and don't crush or dissolve them, to make them easier to take. If the Tykerb tablets are too big or uncomfortable to swallow, let your doctor know. Your Tykerb dose will be taken in addition to your daily 2000-mg Xeloda dose.

Some Common Side Effects of Tykerb:

You may not have all of these side effects, but the most commonly experienced are:

Call Your Doctor if You Have These Symptoms:

If you have an allergic reaction to Tykerb, call your doctor. Allergic symptoms include:
  • Heart palpitations
  • Chest pain
  • Extreme shortness of breath
  • Severe diarrhea

Possible Risks of Using Tykerb:

Tykerb can cause heart problems and congestive heart failure. You should have a test to check your left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) before starting Tykerb treatment. In addition, Tykerb may cause decreased fertility, but research has not concluded that this drug will make you infertile.

Do Not Take Tykerb If:

  • you are pregnant (it can cause harm to your fetus)
  • you are allergic to Tykerb

Drug Interactions:

Some drugs can alter Tykerb's effectiveness. Be sure to give your doctor a complete list of all of the drugs, vitamins, and supplements that you take. If you are taking these drugs or supplements, they will affect how Tykerb works in your body. Tell your doctor if you take:
  • Antibiotics and anti-fungals (for infections)
  • HIV (AIDS) treatments
  • Anticonvulsant drugs
  • Calcium channel blockers (for certain heart disorders or high blood pressure)
  • Antidepressants
  • Drugs for stomach ulcers
  • St. John’s Wort or other herbal supplements

Recommendations During Treatment:

Use contraception while in treatment with Tykerb, because this drug can cause harm to your baby. If you are already pregnant, be sure to tell your doctor. Tykerb can affect the way your heart works, so discuss having an electrocardiogram (ECG) and electrolyte tests, to keep tabs on your heart health. Avoid grapefruit juice and fresh grapefruit while taking Tykerb, because it increases the effects of the drug and may cause a toxic reaction.

Self-Care Tips While Taking Tykerb
If you develop diarrhea while taking Tykerb, ask your doctor for some ways to treat it. If your diarrhea is severe (thin, loose, watery stool, bowel movement with blood or with undigested food or mucus, weight loss, fever) be sure to drink sports beverages that contain electrolytes as well as other fluids. Is it important to stay hydrated during treatment, and to flush your system of toxins. Rest whenever fatigue affects you, and work when your energy returns.

Source: FDA. Drug Information. Tykerb (lapatinib) Tablets. Updated: Tykerb (lapatinib) Tablets.

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