The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation

Erlotinib/Tarceva approved for use as first line treatment in Scotland

A very positive announcement today that some lung cancer patients in Scotland will be able to access a targeted therapy which can stop the cancer spreading in certain cases.

The Scottish Medical Consortium has accepted the drug erlotinib, which is also known as Tarceva, for the first-line treatment of patients with locally advanced, or metastatic, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), who also have epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations.

We have been extremely concerned for some time that this type of targeted therapy, for patients with the EGFR mutation, was not available in Scotland despite the fact it was available over the border in England.

This announcement is excellent news for appropriate Scottish lung cancer patients, particularly as there are so few treatment options in this disease.

Epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFRs) are located on the surface of many types of cancer cells and they allow epidermal growth factor (a protein present in the body) to attach to them causing chemical processes to occur inside the cell that make it grow and divide more quickly. Erlotinib is an EGFR inhibitor that prevents the receptor from being activated and stops the cancer cells from growing so quickly.

It is taken as a tablet once daily, at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after food.

SMC has previously accepted erlotinib for restricted use for second-line treatment in locally advanced or metastatic NSCLC. This submission relates to a licence extension allowing erlotinib to be used as a first-line treatment in patients whose cancer cells have EGFR receptors (around 11% of patients with metastatic NSCLC).

For more information visit the SMC website

1 Reply

Hi Emma and all,

this is good news for Scottish patients indeed. I've heard of various folk over the past few years, talking about Tarceva and the fact that it was available to others in the UK., but not here.

Problems like this may/may not increase - or become more apparent - if Scotland severs ties with the rest of the UK.

I'm doing my best not to bring up politics one way or the other - but it's worth a thought, isn't it? Mabe Nicola has the answer!!

And spare a thought for Lynb - hope the Jamaican weather is kind to her. :)

Best wishes to all, Bill


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