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Br J Cancer. 2003 Dec;89 Suppl 2:S9-14.

Tolerability of gefitinib in patients receiving treatment in everyday clinical practice.

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Department of Thoracic Oncology and Biometrics, The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Gefitinib ("Iressa", ZD1839), an epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor, has recently been approved in several countries for use in advanced or metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In contrast to chemotherapies, which are generally used at or near their maximum-tolerated dose (MTD), gefitinib is used at an optimal biological dose (250 mg day(-1)), which is substantially below its MTD, minimising the risk of adverse events without compromising efficacy. Tolerability data from the compassionate use of gefitinib in the "Iressa" Expanded Access Programme support the favourable safety profile of the agent reported in Phase I and II trials. In both settings, the majority of adverse drug reactions were mild/moderate and consisted mainly of grade 1/2 diarrhoea and skin rash. Although skin rash has been suggested to predict response to gefitinib, available data do not support this hypothesis. Overall, these tolerability data demonstrate that gefitinib has a relatively benign side-effect profile and is a well-tolerated treatment option for patients with previously treated NCSLC, who currently have few alternatives.

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