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Managing EGFR Inhibitor Side Effects

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Published on August 6, 2020

How Can EGFR Mutation Positive Patients Manage the Side Effects of Inhibitor Drugs?

Side effects from EGFR inhibitors can include: rashes, inflammation, diarrhea, and other discomforts. What advice do lung cancer experts have to help EGFR lung cancer patients manage these side effects? In this segment from our recent Lung Cancer Answers Now program, lung cancer expert, Dr. Alex Spira from Virginia Cancer Specialists sits down with patient advocates Jill Feldman from the EGFR Resisters Support Group and Mike Smith as they share how they communicate with their providers about side effect management.


Transcript | Managing EGFR Inhibitor Side Effects

Andrea Hutton:

I'm a breast cancer patient, metastatic breast cancer patient, on treatment. And one of the things that we all worry about as cancer patients, it's wonderful when we hear all this great news about, "Oh, this has all this great success and everything, but are there side effects that we need to worry about?" Part of the clinical trial world is not just the good news, but the gray areas as well.

Dr. Spira:

Yeah, I think that's important. One of the things, I mean, we all think osimertinib (Tagrisso) is a very well tolerated drug, certainly by whatever else we give, example chemotherapy. I see Jill rolling her eyes a little bit, but I will say, the study people are on is for several years. And what becomes a little minor annoying side effect does become over three years, a major side effect, it affects quality of life, it affects a lot of different things. So what I find when I give people medicine, especially if you think about advanced disease, when a drug works early on for patients with metastatic disease, they feel great. But when it works for continued for three years, that's when you start to get the continued questions, the side effects are getting old. And it is what it is. In the adjuvant setting, the ADAURA study, you take things a lot more importantly, because there are many patients in the adjuvant setting that will be cured regardless. So you start to feel bad if patients have unnecessary side effects. Not wanting to get into the other debate, which is the financial toxicity as these drugs are very expensive. And I think that's probably too much for this call, but there is obviously other concerns when you're doing things in the adjuvant setting.

Jill Feldman:

Right. And we don't know the long-term effects of a lot of these new treatments for oncogene driven cancers because it's kind of new. So we don't know 10 years out.

Mike Smith:

Well, that's evidenced by when a new drug comes out and you disclose all the information and possible side effects, and then you re-look at the same information, but it's been updated and you've gotten 10 pages of additional side effects that may happen from it, right?

Jill Feldman:

Right definitely. That is true. And I think that it depends on the patients as well. So I think it's really important for patients to be able to talk to their physicians about their side effects, because unless they're treated at a major institution, their physician might not see as many patients with that kind of lung cancer. And so whatever is on the pamphlet that comes with the drugs or the information that comes from the trial, that doesn't include some of the not so common side effects that actually can have a much bigger impact on people's lives.

Mike Smith:

It's a conversation with your oncologist because my first time I was bringing up the side effects or symptom, they thought I was crazy. And I said, "No, I think this is from the drug." So it's adamant that you’ve got to be an advocate for yourself.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.


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