Lorlatinib belongs to a group of targeted therapy drugs called tyrosine kinase inhibitors. It is used to treat non small-cell lung cancer.

What is Lorlatinib (Lorviqua®)?

Lorlatinib belongs to a group of targeted therapy drugs called tyrosine kinase inhibitors. It is also known as a cancer growth inhibitor. 

Lorlatinib is used to treat non-small cell lung cancer that: 

The cancer cells will be tested for the gene change to see if lorlatinib is suitable for you. 

It may sometimes be used to treat other cancers. It is best to read this information with our general information about targeted therapy drugs and the type of cancer you have.  

Your cancer doctor will talk to you about this treatment and its possible side effects before you agree (consent) to have treatment.  

More information about this treatment

This information is correct at time of publishing. But sometimes the types of cancer this treatment is used for, or treatment side effects, may change between revision dates.

You can talk to your cancer team if you want more detailed information about this treatment. Or visit the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) website, which has patient information leaflets (PIL) for individual drugs.

How lorlatinib is given

Lorlatinib comes as tablets, so you can take it at home. Lorlatinib is given on its own. 

During treatment, you usually see a:

  • cancer doctor
  • cancer nurse or specialist nurse
  • specialist pharmacist.

This is who we mean when we mention doctor, nurse or pharmacist in this information.

Before and during treatment, a nurse or person trained to take blood (phlebotomist) will take a blood sample from you. This is to check that it is safe for you to have treatment.

You will speak to a doctor, nurse or pharmacist before you have treatment. They will ask how you have been feeling.

Your course of treatment

You usually take lorlatinib tablets once a day. A nurse or pharmacist will give you the tablets to take home. Always take them exactly as explained. This is important to make sure they work as well as possible for you. You may be given tablets of different strengths.

Usually you will take lorlatinib for as long as it is working for you and side effects can be managed. Do not stop taking it without your doctor’s advice.

Your nurse or pharmacist may also give you anti-sickness drugs and other medicines to take home. Take all of these exactly as they have been explained to you.

Taking lorlatinib tablets

Take the lorlatinib tablets at the same time every day. This can be at any time that works for you but should always be at the same time each day.

You can take lorlatinib tablets with or without food. Swallow the tablets whole with a glass of water. Do not chew or crush them.

You should not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice when taking lorlatinib. This is because it may increase the risk of side effects.

If you forget to take the tablets, you should take the missed dose as soon as possible. If it is less than 4 hours until your next dose, do not take the missed dose. Do not take a double dose to make up for the missed dose.

Other things to remember about your tablets:

  • Wash your hands after taking your tablets.
  • Other people should avoid direct contact with the targeted therapy drugs.
  • Keep them in the original package and at room temperature, away from moisture, heat and direct sunlight.
  • Keep them safe, somewhere children cannot see or reach them.
  • If you are sick just after taking the tablets, contact the hospital. Do not take an extra dose.
  • If your treatment is stopped, return any unused tablets to the pharmacist.

About side effects

We explain the most common side effects of this treatment here. We also include some that are less common. 

You may get some of the side effects we mention, but you are unlikely to get all of them. And you may have some side effects, including rarer ones, that we have not listed here. 

Other cancer treatments may cause different side effects. If you are also having other cancer treatment, you may have other side effects.

Always tell your doctor, nurse or pharmacist about any side effects you have. They can give you: 

  • drugs to help control some side effects 
  • advice about managing side effects. 

It is important to take any drugs exactly as explained. This means they will be more likely to work for you.

Serious and life-threatening side effects

Some cancer treatments can cause serious side effects. Sometimes, these may be life-threatening. Your doctor, nurse or pharmacist can explain the risk of these side effects to you.

Contact the hospital

Your doctor, nurse or pharmacist will give you 24-hour contact numbers for the hospital. If you feel unwell or need advice, you can call at any time of the day or night. Save these numbers in your phone or keep them somewhere safe.

Common side effects

Anaemia (low number of red blood cells)

This treatment can reduce the number of red blood cells in your blood. Red blood cells carry oxygen around the body. If the number of red blood cells is low, this is called anaemia. You may feel:

  • very low in energy
  • breathless 
  • dizzy and light-headed. 

If you have these symptoms, contact the hospital straight away on the 24-hour number. You may need treatment for anaemia. If you are very anaemic, you may need a drip to give you extra red blood cells. This is called a blood transfusion.

Raised levels of cholesterol

This treatment can raise the level of cholesterol and other fats in the blood. You will have regular blood tests to check the levels of these fats.

Your doctor may give you medicines to control the levels of fat in the blood. 

Effects on the nervous system

Lorlatinib may affect the nervous system. You may:

  • have memory problems 
  • feel confused 
  • have disturbed sleep 
  • have difficulty speaking or slow or slurred speech 
  • see or believe things that are not real (hallucinations or delusions) – this is rare. 

Contact the hospital straight away on the 24-hour number you have if you have any of these side effects. 

Mood changes

You may have some mood changes during this treatment. This can be distressing. You may feel anxious, low or depressed. You may have mood swings. Tell your doctor or nurse straight away if you or people close to you notice changes in your mood or behaviour.

Effects on the lungs

This treatment can affect the lungs. Tell your doctor straight away if you develop:

  • a cough
  • chest pain
  • breathlessness

You should also tell them if any existing breathing problems get worse. You may have tests to check your lungs. You may need treatment with antibiotics and steroids.

Fluid build-up

You may gain weight, or your face, arms, hands, feet and other parts of the body may swell. Tell your doctors if you have any swelling.

Numb or tingling hands or feet (peripheral neuropathy)

This treatment may affect the nerves in your fingers and toes. This can cause numbness, tingling or pain in your hands or feet. This is called peripheral neuropathy. You might find it hard to do fiddly tasks such as fastening buttons or tying shoelaces.

If you have these symptoms, always tell your doctor, nurse or pharmacist. They sometimes need to change the drug or the dose of the drug. The symptoms usually improve slowly after treatment ends. But for some people they continue and are a long-term side effect of treatment.


This treatment may cause diarrhoea. Diarrhoea means passing more stools (poo) than is normal for you, or having watery or loose stools. You may also have stomach cramps. If you have a stoma, it may be more active than usual. 

If you are passing loose stools 3 or more times a day and this is not normal for you, contact the hospital as soon as possible on the 24-hour number. Follow the advice they give you about:

  • taking anti-diarrhoea medicines 
  • drinking enough fluids to keep you hydrated and to replace lost salts and minerals
  • any changes to your diet that might help. 

They might also ask you for a specimen of your stool to check for infection.


This treatment can cause constipation. Constipation means that you are not able to pass stools (poo) as often as you normally do. It can become difficult or painful. Here are some tips that may help:

  • Drink at least 2 litres (3½ pints) of fluids each day.
  • Eat high-fibre foods, such as fruit, vegetables and wholemeal bread.
  • Do regular gentle exercise, like going for short walks.

If you have constipation, contact the hospital on the 24-hour number for advice. They can give you drugs called laxatives to help. 

If you have not been able to pass stools for over 2 days and are being sick, contact the 24-hour number straight away. 

Eyesight changes

This treatment can affect your eyesight. Contact your doctor if you have: 

  • any difficulty seeing out of one or both eyes 
  • double vision 
  • feel that you see flashes of light. 

Skin changes

This treatment may affect your skin. It may cause a rash. Your doctor or nurse can tell you what to expect. If your skin feels dry, try using an unperfumed moisturising cream every day.  

Muscle or joint pain

You may get pain in your muscles or joints. If this happens, tell your doctor or nurse. They can give you advice and painkillers or other drugs to help. Being physically active and keeping to a healthy weight may help with the pain. It can keep your joints flexible and reduce stress on them. If the pain does not get better, tell your doctor or nurse.

Feeling tired (fatigue)

Feeling tired is a common side effect of this treatment. Try to pace yourself and plan your day so you have time to rest. Gentle exercise, like short walks, can help you feel less tired. If you feel sleepy, do not drive or operate machinery.

Effects on the heart

This treatment can affect the way your heart works. Your doctor may do tests to see how well your heart is working. You may have these tests before, during and sometimes after treatment.  

Contact a doctor straight away if you: 

  • feel light-headed, dizzy or faint 
  • feel breathless  
  • feel your heart is beating too fast or too slowly. 

Other conditions can cause these symptoms. But it is important to get them checked by a doctor.

Effects on the liver

This treatment may affect how your liver works. You will have blood tests to check how well your liver is working.


This treatment may cause headaches. If you have headaches, tell your doctor, nurse or pharmacist. They can give you advice about painkillers that may help. Tell them if the headache does not get better, or gets worse.

Weight gain

You may gain weight when you are having this treatment. Your nurse or doctor may check your weight at appointments. They can give you advice and refer you to a dietitian if needed. Eating healthily and being active can help you keep to a healthy weight.

High blood pressure

Lorlatinib can cause high blood pressure in some people. Tell your doctor, nurse or pharmacist if you already have high blood pressure before starting this treatment.

Your blood pressure will be checked regularly when you are taking lorlatinib. Tell your doctor if you have: 

  • headaches 
  • dizziness
  • blurred vision.

If you develop high blood pressure, you will be prescribed medicines to help control it.

Less common side effects

Effects on the pancreas

This treatment may affect how your pancreas works. You will have regular blood tests to check how well it is working.

Rarely, the pancreas can become inflamed. This is called pancreatitis. Tell your doctor straight away if you:

  • have tummy or back pain
  • have itching
  • feel sick
  • have yellowing of your skin and eyes.

Feeling sick

Your doctor, nurse or pharmacist will prescribe anti-sickness drugs to help prevent or control sickness. Take the drugs exactly as they tell you to, even if you do not feel sick. It is easier to prevent sickness than to treat it after it has started.

If you feel sick, take small sips of fluid often and eat small amounts regularly. It is important to drink enough fluids. If you continue to feel sick, or if you are sick (vomit) 1 to 2 times in 24 hours, contact the hospital on the 24-hour number as soon as possible. They will give you advice. They may change your anti-sickness treatment. Let them know if you still feel sick.

Raised blood sugar levels

This treatment may raise your blood sugar levels.

You will have regular blood tests to check this.

Signs of raised blood sugar include:

  • feeling thirsty
  • needing to pass urine (pee) more often than usual
  • feeling more tired than usual.

Tell the hospital on the 24-hour number if you have these symptoms during treatment or after it ends.

If you already have diabetes, your blood sugar levels may be higher than usual. You may need advice and support from your GP or diabetes team about managing this.

Other information

Blood clot risk

Cancer and some cancer treatments can increase the risk of a blood clot. Contact the hospital straight away on the 24-hour number if you have any of these symptoms during or after treatment:

  • throbbing pain or swelling in a leg or arm
  • reddening of the skin in the area – if you have black or brown skin, this can be harder to notice, but the skin might become darker
  • suddenly feeling breathless or coughing.

Always call 999 if you have:

  • chest pain
  • difficulty breathing.

A blood clot is serious, but it can be treated with drugs called anticoagulants. These thin the blood. Your doctor, nurse or pharmacist can give you more information about preventing and treating blood clots.


This drug contains lactose. If you have a lactose intolerance, talk to your doctor before you start taking this treatment.

Other medicines

Some medicines can affect how this treatment works or be harmful while you are having it. Always tell your cancer doctor, nurse or pharmacist about any drugs you are taking or planning to take, such as: 


Doctors usually recommend that people with cancer have vaccinations for flu and for coronavirus (covid). These help reduce your risk of serious illness from these infections. Most people can have these vaccines, including people with weak immune systems.

If your immune system is weak, you should not have live vaccinations. Live vaccines can make you unwell because they contain a very weak version of the illness they will protect you against. Live vaccines include Zostavax®, which is a shingles vaccine, and the yellow fever vaccine.

It is important to ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist for advice about having vaccinations. They can explain what vaccines are right for you and when it is best to have them.


Your doctor will advise you not to get pregnant or make someone pregnant while having this treatment. The drugs may harm a developing baby.

It is important to use highly effective contraception during your treatment and for at least 5 weeks after treatment finishes. For example, use a double barrier method such as a condom and a diaphragm. You should use a non-hormonal method of contraception as lorlatinib can affect how hormonal contraceptives work. Your doctor, nurse or pharmacist can tell you more about this. 


Some cancer drugs can affect whether you can get pregnant or make someone pregnant. If you are worried about this, it is important to talk with your doctor before you start treatment.


You are advised not to breastfeed while having this treatment, or for some time after treatment ends. This is because the drugs could be passed to the baby through breast milk. 

Your doctor, nurse or pharmacist can give you more information.

Medical and dental treatment

If you need medical treatment for any reason other than cancer, always tell the healthcare professional that you are having cancer treatment. Give them the contact details for your cancer doctor or cancer team so they can ask for advice.

If you have appointments with a dentist, always tell them you are having cancer treatment. Talk to your cancer team before you have any dental treatment.

About our information

This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer.

Date reviewed

Reviewed: 01 December 2023
Next review: 01 December 2025
Trusted Information Creator - Patient Information Forum
Trusted Information Creator - Patient Information Forum

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