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Lapatinib, which is also known as Tyverb ®, is a drug that’s mainly used to treat women with advanced breast cancer|. It may be used to treat other types of cancer| as part of a research trial.
This section aims to give a balanced summary of the information that is available so far. It should ideally be read with our general information about your type of cancer.
You'll see your doctor regularly while you have this treatment so they can monitor its effects. This information should help you discuss any queries about your treatment and its side effects with your doctor or specialist nurse.
Lapatinib is a type of treatment called a tyrosine kinase inhibitor|. Kinases are important proteins in the body that regulate how the cells grow and divide.
Lapatinib is mainly used to treat people with HER2 positive breast cancer| that has spread to other parts of the body (advanced or metastatic breast cancer).
It is either given with a chemotherapy tablet called capecitabine| (Xeloda ®) or in combination with a type of hormonal therapy|.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) currently gives advice on which new drugs or treatments should be available on the NHS in England and Wales. The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) makes recommendations on the use of new drugs within the NHS in Scotland. Neither NICE nor the SMC recommend the use of lapatinib.
As a result, lapatinib may not be available on the NHS, although you could be given it as part of a clinical trial. We have more information on what you can do if a treatment isn’t available|.
It's important to let your doctors know straight away if you feel unwell or have any severe side effects, even if they're not mentioned above.
Some medicines, including those that you can buy in a shop or chemist, can be harmful to take when you’re taking lapatinib. Tell your doctor about any medicines you’re taking, including over-the-counter drugs, complementary therapies| and herbal drugs|.
Your ability to become pregnant or father a child may be affected by taking this drug. It's important to discuss fertility| with your doctor before starting treatment.
It's not advisable to become pregnant or father a child while taking lapatinib, as it may harm the developing baby. It’s important to use effective contraception while taking this drug, and for at least a few months afterwards.
It’s not known whether lapatinib is present in semen or vaginal fluids. To protect your partner it’s safest to either avoid sex or use a barrier form of contraception for about 48 hours after treatment.
There is a potential risk that lapatinib may be present in breast milk so women are advised not to breastfeed while taking imatinib and for a few months afterwards.
If you’re admitted to hospital for a reason not related to the cancer, it’s important to tell the doctors and nurses looking after you that you are having lapatinib treatment. You should tell them the name of your cancer specialist so that they can ask for advice.
It’s a good idea to know who you should contact if you have any problems or troublesome side effects when you’re at home. During office hours you can contact the clinic or ward where you had your treatment. Your specialist nurse or doctor will tell you who to contact during the evening or at weekends.
This information has been compiled using information from a number of reliable sources, including:
Content last reviewed: 1 January 2013
Next planned review: 2015
For answers, support or just a chat, call the Macmillan Support Line free (Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm)
If you have any questions about cancer, need support or just want someone to talk to, ask Macmillan.
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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