Tarceva (erlotinib) is a brand-name drug prescribed for certain types of cancer. Tarceva comes as an oral tablet that’s typically taken once per day. The dosage can vary depending on what condition the drug’s used to treat.

Tarceva is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat certain types of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and pancreatic cancer in adults.

Tarceva belongs to a class of drugs called kinase inhibitors. Tarceva is available in a generic form called erlotinib.

Keep reading for specific information about the dosage of Tarceva, including its strengths and how to take the medication. For a comprehensive look at Tarceva, see this article.

Note: This article describes typical dosages for Tarceva provided by the drug’s manufacturer. When taking Tarceva, always follow the dosage prescribed by your doctor.

Before you start treatment with Tarceva, your doctor will recommend the best dosage for your condition.

Tarceva form

Tarceva comes as an oral tablet.

Tarceva strengths

Tarceva comes in three strengths:

  • 25 milligrams (mg)
  • 100 mg
  • 150 mg

Typical dosages

The following information describes dosages that are commonly used. However, be sure to take the dosage your doctor prescribes for you. Your doctor will determine the best dosage to fit your needs.

Tarceva formStrengthTypical dosage
oral tablet• 25 mg
• 100 mg
• 150 mg
• for NSCLC: 150 mg per day
• for pancreatic cancer: 100 mg per day

Dosage for non-small cell lung cancer

The recommended dosage of Tarceva for non-small cell lung cancer is 150 mg once per day. You should take your dose on an empty stomach at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after you eat food.

Dosage for pancreatic cancer

The typical dosage of Tarceva for pancreatic cancer is 100 mg once per day. You should take your dose on an empty stomach at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after you eat food.

If you’re taking Tarceva for pancreatic cancer, your doctor will recommend taking it in combination with the drug Infugem (gemcitabine).

Long-term treatment

Tarceva is meant to be a long-term treatment. If you and your doctor determine that Tarceva is safe and effective for you, you’ll likely take it long term. Most people take this medication until their cancer worsens or until they have serious side effects from the medication that cause them to stop taking it.

The Tarceva dosage your doctor prescribes will depend on several factors. These include:

  • the type of condition you’re using Tarceva to treat
  • other medications you take
  • whether you smoke cigarettes

Other medical conditions you have can also affect your Tarceva dosage.

Dosage adjustments

In some cases, your doctor may recommend that you take a lower dose of Tarceva. This may occur if you are taking certain medications called CYP3A4 inhibitors. An example of this type of drug is the antifungal medication ketoconazole.

In addition, it’s possible that your doctor may recommend that you take a higher dose of Tarceva than usual. This may occur if:

  • you smoke cigarettes
  • you’re taking another medication that’s a CYP3A4 inducer, such as Rimactane (rifampin) or Tegretol (carbamazepine)

Before starting Tarceva, tell your doctor if you take any other medications or smoke. Based on these factors, they will recommend the best dosage of Tarceva for you.

Tarceva is an oral tablet that should be taken by mouth once per day. This medication should be taken on an empty stomach. So be sure to take your dose at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after eating.

If you have difficulty swallowing tablets, see this article for tips on how to take this form of medication. You can also talk with your doctor or pharmacist.


If you’re having difficulty reading your prescription label, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. Some pharmacies offer labels with large print, braille, or a code you scan with a smartphone to convert text to speech. If your local pharmacy doesn’t have these options, your doctor or pharmacist might be able to recommend a pharmacy that does.

If you’re having difficulty opening medication bottles, ask your pharmacist about putting Tarceva in an easy-open container. They also may recommend tools that can make it easier to open bottles.

If you miss your dose of Tarceva, talk with your doctor or pharmacist to determine when to take your next dose. In some cases, they may recommend taking your next dose on an empty stomach as soon as possible. However, they may recommend skipping your missed dose and taking your next dose when it’s due.

To help make sure that you don’t miss a dose, try using a medication reminder. This can include setting an alarm or using a timer. You could also download a reminder app on your phone.

It’s important that you do not take more Tarceva than your doctor prescribes. For some medications, taking more than the recommended amount may lead to side effects or overdose.

If you take more than the recommended amount of Tarceva

Call your doctor right away if you believe you’ve taken too much Tarceva. Another option is to call America’s Poison Centers at 800-222-1222 or use its online tool. If you have severe symptoms, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number or go to the nearest emergency room.

The dosages in this article are typical dosages provided by the drug’s manufacturer. If your doctor recommends Tarceva for you, they will prescribe the dosage that’s right for you. Always follow the dosage that your doctor prescribes for you.

As with any drug, never change your dosage of Tarceva without your doctor’s recommendation. If you have questions about the dosage of Tarceva that’s best for you, talk with your doctor.

Besides learning about dosage, you may want more information about Tarceva. These additional articles might be helpful to you:

Disclaimer: Medical News Today has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.