Tuberc Respir Dis.  2007 Feb;62(2):144-148. 10.4046/trd.2007.62.2.144.

Acute Respiratory Failure Developed in Non-small Cell Lung Cancer Patients Treated With Gefitinib

  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, Inha University, Incheon, South Korea.
  • 2Department of Pathology, College of Medicine, Inha University, Incheon, South Korea.


Gefitinib is an oral selective inhibitor that targets the tyrosine kinase of the epidermal growth factor receptor. The prevalence of interstitial lung disease is 2% in Japan and 0.3% in the USA with a mortality rate of up to one third. We describe two non-small cell lung cancer patients who developed acute respiratory failure after gefitinib, and suggest that clinicians take extreme caution when deciding to treat patients with gefitinib.


Adverse effect; Gefitinib; Lung cancer

MeSH Terms

Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung*
Lung Diseases, Interstitial
Lung Neoplasms
Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
Receptor, Epidermal Growth Factor
Respiratory Insufficiency*
Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
Receptor, Epidermal Growth Factor


  • Figure 1 Chest radiography shows newly developed pulmonary infiltrates on left lower lung field in case 1 and 2. Bilateral ground glass opacities are noted on chest CT scan of case 2.

  • Figure 2 It demonstrates hyaline membranes lining the alveolar wall with edema and interstitial mononuclear cell infiltrate in case 1. Fibrinoid proteinaceous exudate in the alveolar space and sometimes along the alveolar walls and intra-alveolar and interstitial infiltration of neutrophils and lymphocytes are shown in case 2.


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