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Lapatinib is used alone or in combination with another anti-cancer medicine to treat certain types of breast cancer (HER2-overexpressing) which have spread beyond the original tumor or to other organs (advanced or metastatic breast cancer).

How it works

Lapatinib belongs to a class of medications called antineoplastic kinase inhibitors. It works by blocking the action of the abnormal protein that signals cancer cells to multiply thus helping to slow or stop the spread of cancer cells.

Common side effects

Nausea, Liver disorder, Back pain, Pain in extremity, Joint pain, Constipation, Cough, Diarrhoea, Dry skin, Shortness of breath, Thinning of hair, Hair loss, Headache, Altered heart rate, Hot flashes, Indigestion, Insomnia, Itching, Loss of appetite, Nail disorder, Nose bleed, Rash, Skin reaction, Fatigue, Sleepiness, Sore mouth, Stomach pain, Vomiting


Expert advice

  • Before taking Lapatinib, tell your doctor, if you have heart disease such as heart failure or had a heart attack. You may need to undergo cardiac function tests prior to initiation of treatment and during treatment with Lapatinib to monitor your condition.
  • Lapatinib may cause liver damage which can be severe or life-threatening. Tell your doctor if you have or ever had liver disease.
  • Take precautions as Lapatinib often causes diarrhea, which can be severe.
  • You should be monitored for symptoms of pulmonary toxicity (dyspnea, cough, fever) and treatment should be discontinued if you experience severe symptoms.
  • You must use a reliable method of contraception to avoid becoming pregnant while on Lapatinib.
  • Do not drive or operate machinery as Lapatinib may cause extreme tiredness/weakness.

Frequently asked questions


Q. Is lapatinib cytotoxic/ chemotherapy? 
Lapatinib is not cytotoxic and not a chemotherapy drug.
Q. Is lapatinib a monoclonal antibody?
Lapatinib is not a monoclonal antibody.

Content on this page was last updated on 30 September, 2016, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)