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CA Cancer J Clin. 2013 Jul-Aug;63(4):249-79. doi: 10.3322/caac.21184. Epub 2013 May 28.

Understanding, recognizing, and managing toxicities of targeted anticancer therapies.

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Department of Medicine, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York, USA.


Answer questions and earn CME/CNE Advances in genomics and molecular biology have identified aberrant proteins in cancer cells that are attractive targets for cancer therapy. Because these proteins are overexpressed or dysregulated in cancer cells compared with normal cells, it was assumed that their inhibitors will be narrowly targeted and relatively nontoxic. However, this hope has not been achieved. Current targeted agents exhibit the same frequency and severity of toxicities as traditional cytotoxic agents, with the main difference being the nature of the toxic effects. Thus, the classical chemotherapy toxicities of alopecia, myelosuppression, mucositis, nausea, and vomiting have been generally replaced by vascular, dermatologic, endocrine, coagulation, immunologic, ocular, and pulmonary toxicities. These toxicities need to be recognized, prevented, and optimally managed.


immunotherapeutic agents; kinase inhibitors; mechanism-based toxicity; off-target toxicity; targeted agents; therapeutic index; toxicity

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