Article Abstract

Cutaneous toxicities of new targeted cancer therapies: must know for diagnosis, management, and patient-proxy empowerment

Authors: Thomas McFarlane, Noor Rehman, Katie Wang, Jenny Lee, Caitlin Carter


The world of oncology treatment is rapidly changing, and with the investigation into and utilization of molecular signaling pathways for cancer treatment, many new targeted small-molecule oral agents have been introduced as therapies, with more new drugs appearing every year. These agents, while generally considered less toxic overall than traditional chemotherapy, are not without adverse effects. The authors undertook an extensive literature search to determine the incidence, severity, and management strategies for small-molecule oral targeted agents approved by the FDA between 2013 and 2018. Dermatologic adverse effects are among the most frequently seen with many of these targeted therapies, and may include rashes, palmar-plantar dysesthesia, alopecia, secondary skin malignancies, and hair and nail changes. Rarely, more severe cutaneous toxicities are seen, such as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis. In many cases, there is no specific management strategy suggested in the literature for these toxicities, but frequent monitoring of the skin, prophylactic management of palmar-plantar dysesthesia, use of corticosteroids and/or antihistamines, and intervention with dose interruption are suggested depending on circumstance and severity. Patient education and timely intervention is warranted in order to ensure that patient treatment is optimized.

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