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any info on Tarceva would be helpful

Posts: 34
Joined: Nov 2005

Greetings..my dad has just finished 4 rounds of chemo..the doctors tell us that the cancer is shrinking. They also told him that if he wasnt in such poor health ( heart failure and COPD lung disorder) he would be in good shape. So why arent they giving him more chemo? If he is responding to it why not continue. They not talk about Tarceva I looked it up and it says its for patients who have already taken chemo and the cancer is still progressing. I guess Im a little confused. Can anyone give me info on Tarceva and Ive heard its expensive? Any info on this would be helpful. I find the more research online the more negative info I get. Coming here is always helpful and compassionate.

Posts: 14
Joined: Mar 2005

I have 3b nsclc and had previous chemo for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (cll)in Jan to May 2005. Doc told me that Tarceva was the best for advanced ncslc, but it usually only works if you have a mutation in your EGFR - growth factor receptor. I was tested for it and didn't have the mutation. I am getting Avastin, Taxol, & Carboplatin instead. The doc told me that the Tarceva doubles responce rate for 3b nsclc - so it is worth looking into. The company that makes Tarceva say that 20% of the people without the mutation can still take it, but there is some question about insurance for me because it would have been used as a first line treatment. I don't know what it costs, but the cll treatment using Rutuxan was about $8000 per treatment and it also is a targeted therapy type of drug. Hope this helps

Posts: 23
Joined: Apr 2005

My husband has 3B NSCLC and had an excellent response to chemo, although he never went into complete remission. The doctor and he discussed trying more chemo before placing him on Tarceva. My husband decided to try Tarceva instead because he wanted a break. Unfortunately, it did not work for him and he is now back on chemo. However, my husband has responded very well to chemo, has had relatively few side-effects while on it, is only in his early 40's and is in otherwise excellent health. If your dad is already in poor health, the doctors may be weighing the neg. effects of the chemo against any benefits they beleive your father may receive from it.
All said, however, I think the Tarceva is worth a try. For some people it has really worked well and you will know pretty quickly if it isn't. Chemo is always a continuing option. By the way, Tarceva costs about $3000 a month, but if insurance won't pay, the manufacturing co. (Genentech) may help.
Also, there are a lot of new chemo drugs out there. You may want to ask your dad's doctors about less harsh ones such as Alimta and Navelbine. Not as many people respond to these as platinum or taxo drugs, but once again, you don't know until you try. This whole experience has taught me that each patient is different and the doctors start out with what works for the most people and then move down their list of options. It never hurts to ask doctors if these other options may work.
Long-winded, as I usually am, but I hope this is of some help!

Posts: 1
Joined: Jun 2004

I am a stage 3b NSCL and did NOT test positive as a candidate for Tarceva but my doctor put me on it anyway. It has taken almost ALL of my cancer away. He only sees a trace left. So , it is worth a try. Has anyone out there had this good of a response? I have a mild rash and mild fatique. I hear there are a few other people like me out there- people who have a really good response to the drug, but I can't find any. If you are one of them, please contact me at jaeger2287@aol.com I have been on the drug since November, 2005 after radiation, surgery and chemo.

gdpawel's picture
Posts: 538
Joined: May 2001

Increasingly, targeted oral-dose anti-cancer drugs (like Iressa and Tarceva) are found to treat cancers effectively in those that it is helping, and seen as an intergral and necessary part of a patient's cancer care. A number of these breakthrough cancer drugs come on to the market that are only in oral form.

There are many cancer drug regimens, all of which have approximately the same probability of working. The tumors of different patients have different responses to chemotherapy. Tumors grow and spread in different ways and their response to treatment depends on these unique characteristics. The amount of chemotherapy that each patient can tolerate varies considerably from patient to patient. It requires individualized treatment based on testing the individual properties of each patient's cancer.

Therapeutic protocols currently in use are limited in their effectiveness, because they are based on the results of clinical trials conducted on a general population, yet no two patients are alike.

Which cancer drugs would be most effective? Test the tumor first. These targeted cancer therapies will give doctors a better way to tailor cancer treatment. Treatments need to be individualized based on the unique set of molecular targets produced by the patient's tumor, and these important treatment advances will require individualized assay-testing which can improve patient survival in chemotherapy for cancer.

These new differences in therapy hold the promise of being more selective, harming fewer normal cells, reducing side-effects and work to improve the quality of life for people with cancer and can translate into savings for them and overall for the health care system.

There are over 100 different therapeutic drug regimens out there (400 are in the pipeline). Any one or combination of them can help cancer patients. The system is overloaded with drugs and under loaded with wisdom and expertise for using them. What's needed is to make extensive use of cell-culture assay-tests in treatment decisions.

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