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Erlotinib-related skin toxicities: treatment strategies in patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer.

Skin toxicities are the most common side effects associated with the epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitor erlotinib, occurring in most patients receiving the drug. Clinical trials evaluating erlotinib for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer have reported a range of skin disorders, the most common being acneiform rash, xeroderma (dry skin), pruritus, and paronychia. Although in the majority of cases these effects are mild and transient, they can have a considerable impact on a patient's quality of life and, if particularly severe and persistent, may necessitate treatment interruption or cessation and compromise treatment outcome. This coupled with recent evidence to suggest a positive correlation between the incidence and severity of rash and clinical outcome among erlotinib-treated patients with advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer highlights the importance of adequately managing epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitor--related skin disorders. Clear treatment strategies are therefore necessary to ensure the prevention and optimal management of erlotinib-related skin toxicities thereby enabling patients to continue erlotinib treatment. In this review we present a practical approach for the treatment of erlotinib-related cutaneous side effects in Japanese patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer providing details of specific treatment interventions, according to symptom severity, for each of the common skin disorders. In addition, the importance of preventive skin care measures--namely maintaining cleanliness, moisturization, and protection from external stimuli--in preventing the development of serious skin disorders is discussed and guidelines for the practice of proper skin care are presented.

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