Gefitinib is an antagonist of the epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase (EGFR-TK). In cancer cells, EGFR-TK-activating mutations contribute to cell survival, proliferation and metastasis.
Physicians should assess EGFR mutation status before administering gefinitib, as there is no evidence that the drug is effective in patients whose tumours lack EGFR mutations.
Interstitial lung disease is common in gefitinib-treated patients and can be severe; if this complication develops, the drug should be discontinued.
Further information: AstraZeneca