Free to Breathe

Good results but seeking more info. on NSCLung Cancer using drug Tarceva

Diagnosed with stage 4 NSCLung Cancer in Dec. 2016 and started taking Tarceva on Feb. 17 at 150 mg. This dosage shrunk my cancer in half;however, my liver functions went sky high. SCCA determined that dosage was too toxic for me and reduced the dosage to 100mg. Was on it for a week and woke with terrible headache and fuzzy thinking. My liver also headed right back up. However, they did an MRI and it was now determined that there was no visible cancer in my brain. Now I'm on 75 mg. and the fussy vision and headaches are starting again. Went for a walk in our local park with lots of hills and valleys apprx. 2 1/8th mile walk. That was it for the day for me. Made dinner and watched t.v. I am scheduled to go back in this coming Thursday to do blood tests and possibly CT. I have been told that even if they get rid of the EGFR cancer that it will still be in my blood stream. So, am wondering if there is another option to just maintain or arrest the development and spread of this cancer. Once they biopsied my original EGFR cancer, it was released into my blood stream. Don't know much about this because I'm learning as I go along. Anyone out there know if there is a way to control the EGFR in my blood?

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I can't speak to Tarceva as it is not approved for my EGFR mutation. There are conflicting reports regarding biopsies and the spread of cancer cells. Weighing the pros and cons, I chose to go ahead with biopsy for a better understanding of how to target my treatment. My understanding is that if the cancer has metastasized (stage 4) there are cancer cells already in your system. Here is a good link to a study that was done at Mayo, however, there are plenty of conflicting opinions as well. I believe that worry and anxiety further hamper the immune system so I choose not to dwell on the 'what if's'. It took me a while to get to this place. Meditation helps me. Wishing you all the best.


Thanks Peg for thinking of me and getting back with this info. I had a little talk with myself this a.m. about stressing about things. All of your advice was well received. Peggie

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Hi, Peggy.

When they say "in your blood", they mean that people with metastatic cancer are likely to have individual cancer cells dispersed throughout their bodies. Systemic treatments like Tarceva spread throughout your system and suppress the growth of these dispersed cancer cells as well as working on your main tumor(s).

EGFR is not a thing by itself. It stands for "epidermal growth factor receptor" and refers to growth receptors that are on the outer surface of all human cells. In your case (and mine) the growth receptors in our cancer cells are mutated, and stuck in an "on" position, instead of being "off" except when needed. All of your cancer cells have abnormal EGFR, that is what is driving your cancer to grow.

There are new blood tests that are used to identify cancers with treatable mutations. When cancer cells die, they release their DNA into the bloodstream, and this DNA can be analyzed the same as they analyzed the tissue from your original biopsy. Here is a link to info on blood biopsies:

It sounds like you are very sensitive to Tarceva. Your doctors are doing the right thing by reducing your dosage to a point where the side effects are more tolerable. Dosages have been set by what is tolerable rather than what is effective, and doctors are finding that much smaller doses of Tarceva can be just as effective as the large dose of the standard recommendation. It's a very powerful drug, and it is working everywhere in your body to control your cancer.

I'm also EGFR mutant. Hope this info helps - I can be a resource for you.



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