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Handling Tarceva

Posts: 13
Joined: Dec 2006

The nurses giving my DAD Tarceva were giving it to him by hand and after 3 days they started giving it to him wearing Latex gloves. Should Tarceva not have any contact with skin?

Plymouthean's picture
Posts: 264
Joined: Jan 2004

Let me first say that I'm not a doctor or a pharmacist. I have had chemo treatments for two types of cancer. I think that one answer to your question is that ongoing safety studies have determined that chemotherapy solutions should not be allowed to contact the skin. Almost anything that contacts the skin can be, and probably will be absorbed. I noticed that, over time, the nurses who administered my chemo, started wearing gloves to protect themselves.
Also, as a hospital volunteer, I had many occasions to transport chemo medications fom the hospital pharmacy to the oncology department. At first, there was no requirement for special protection (gloves). Again over time, the hospital instituted requirements that all persons handling chemotherapy medications wear protective gloves.
While I don't dismiss your concern, I feel that the wearing of protective gloves is prudent, not only with Tarceva, but with all chemicals. Tarceva, in this respect, is probably no worse than other chemicals used for chemotherapy.
In my opinion, rather than being concerned about Tarceva, as a particularly dangerous chemical, you should be confident in the medical team which apparently is keeping up to date on chemical handling procedures.
I'm sure that there will be other postings here, regarding this.
Best wishes and prayers to you and your Dad.

Posts: 156
Joined: Aug 2006

Hmm, I don't know much about the makeup of Tarceva but I'm leaning towards the belief the reason the nurses are wearing gloves is for hygiene. Nurses and any medical professional are supposed to wash their hands between patients or wear gloves. It may be easier on the hands to wear gloves.

I DO know a bit more about chemo because I had a recent conversation with a nurse about it. She was telling me that they mix the chemo with the saline medium "under a hood" - a protective place to contain any contamination to the nurses. They must wear gloves to prevent the chemo solution touching them. As she said, chemo is toxic and nobody who doesn't need it should be unnecessarily exposed to it. After all, chemo destroys healthy and cancerous cells. It never dawned on me about that before but it all makes sense.

With the pills, I doubt there is that danger because Tarceva works on the mechanism of cancerous cells growth. It doesn't harm healthy cells.

It seems more that the nurses are practicing good hygiene and sanitation, as they should.

But you can always read the label on the Tarceva prescription bottle or the precautionary sheet the pharmacist hands you upon filling the prescription.

ernrol's picture
Posts: 91
Joined: Apr 2006

One of the instructions that come with Tarceva is to wash your hands after taking it. The same instructions come on some air sickness pills. I think it is standard precaution.

Stay positive,


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