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Description and management of cutaneous side effects during cetuximab or erlotinib treatments: a prospective study of 30 patients.

BACKGROUND: Drugs such as cetuximab or erlotinib, which inhibit the epidermal growth factor receptor, are increasingly being used in treatment of solid tumors. This has led to the appearance of new secondary effects.

OBJECTIVE: We sought to describe the cutaneous side effects and their management in patients with cancer treated with cetuximab or erlotinib.

METHODS: We clinically examined 30 patients determining type, frequency, treatment, and evolution of side effects.

RESULTS: Most patients presented with a cutaneous reaction consisting of a follicular eruption, typically appearing in seborrheic areas within the first 15 days of treatment. Painful fissures in palms and soles and paronychia were the second most common cutaneous toxicities. We also noticed an alteration in hair growth at several months' follow-up. As these secondary effects responded well to treatment, few patients discontinued the antineoplastic therapy because of cutaneous toxicity.

LIMITATIONS: This was a prospective but uncontrolled study.

CONCLUSION: Although these new targeted therapies have low systemic toxicity because of their high specificity, cutaneous side effects are common and may be serious.

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