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Cancer Res Treat. 2019 Jan;51(1):169-177. doi: 10.4143/crt.2017.491. Epub 2018 Apr 5.

The Risk of Herpes Zoster in Patients with Non-small Cell Lung Cancer according to Chemotherapy Regimens: Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors versus Cytotoxic Chemotherapy.

Author information

Department of Dermatology, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea.
Center for Skin Cancer and Adverse Skin Reaction to Chemotherapeutics, Seoul National University Cancer Hospital, Seoul, Korea.



Despite the successful use of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) in cancer patients, their effect on herpes zoster development has not been studied. The aim of this study was to evaluate and compare the effects of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) TKI and cytotoxic chemotherapy on the risk of herpes zoster development in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients.

Materials and Methods:

We conducted a medical review of all eligible NSCLC patients in Seoul National University hospital between 2002 and 2015. We classified patients based on whether they previously underwent EGFR TKI therapy into either the TKI group or the cytotoxic group. We compared the incidence rates of herpes zoster during TKI therapy and cytotoxic chemotherapy. Additionally, the longitudinal risk of herpes zoster from TKIs was analyzed using the incidence rate ratio (IRR) of the TKI group to the cytotoxic group and the log-rank test of the Kaplan-Meier method.


Of the 2,981 NSCLC patients, 54 patients (1.54%) developed herpes zoster. In the TKI group (2,002 patients), the IRR of herpes zoster during TKI therapy compared to that during cytotoxic chemotherapy was 1.05 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.53 to 2.09). The IRR of the TKI group compared to the cytotoxic group was 1.33 (95% CI, 0.64 to 2.76). The Kaplan-Meier cumulative risk of both groups was not significantly different.


Our results show that the incidence rate of herpes zoster in the TKI group was not statistically different from the incidence in the cytotoxic group during and after chemotherapy in NSCLC patients.


Cytotoxic chemotherapy; Epidermal growth factor receptor; Erlotinib; Gefitinib; Herpes zoster; Non-small-cell lung carcinoma

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