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What is Tykerb®?

Ann Olson
Ann Olson

Tykerb® is a cancer drug used to treat some types of advanced breast cancer. It is commonly used in combination with capecitabine, another breast cancer drug. According to clinical trials, this drug can help stop breast cancer from becoming worse, making it easier to treat. It is available in tablet form and typically is taken in 21-day cycles.

This type of cancer treatment specifically helps treat advanced breast cancer in people who have HER2, a protein that can make the cancer more aggressive. Once a dose is administered, the drug enters the cancer cell and binds to the HER2 protein, blocking the expression of the protein. This helps slow down or stop the advancement of the cancer.

Doctor taking notes
Doctor taking notes

According to medical studies, Tykerb® works as effectively as trastuzumab, an injectable treatment used to treat the same type of breast cancer. The findings show that women who received Tykerb® halted their cancer growth for about 37 weeks. Taking capecitabine alone, which is commonly prescribed with Tykerb®, was shown to only halt its growth for about 20 weeks.

There are numerous adverse effects associated with this drug. The most common side effects include diarrhea, unpleasant or painful feelings in the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, nausea, rash, vomiting and fatigue. It may also cause pneumonitis and interstitial lung disease.

Complications can arise from its use, including hepatotoxicity, or liver damage. The damage can be fatal, and deaths have been reported from its use. The damage can occur in days to months after its use. People with liver problems of any kind cannot use this drug because of this risk, and even people with no history of liver problems will need to be monitored to ensure the drug is not causing damage.

In addition to patients with liver conditions, some other patients are specifically advised not to take Tykerb® as well. Women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant should not take it because it can damage the fetus. People who are allergic to lapatinib, have heart disease, a family history of Long QT syndrome or an electrolyte imbalance may not be good candidates for this drug. It can also interact with some medications, including heart and blood pressure drugs, some antibiotics and drugs used to treat psychiatric disorders.

Tykerb® is taken one hour before or after a meal on an empty stomach. People may need to take up to six tablets per day, depending on the severity of their cancer. The pill should be swallowed whole; crushing it can reduce its efficacy and present a serious hazard if it gets on a person's skin.

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