Cancer Home > Precautions and Warnings With Gefitinib

Gefitinib has been reported to cause severe lung disease in certain cases. Liver problems are also possible with this chemotherapy drug. To help minimize your risk of problems, make sure your healthcare provider has your complete medical history, as well as a current list of all medications you are taking. Other warnings and precautions associated with gefitinib apply to people who have certain allergies.

What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking gefitinib (Iressa®) if you have:
  • Liver disease, such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, or liver failure
  • Kidney disease, such as kidney failure (renal failure)
  • Lung disease
  • Been previously treated with chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  • Any allergies, including to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Breastfeeding.
You should also tell your healthcare provider about all other medications you are taking, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Specific Gefitinib Precautions and Warnings

Some warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking this medication include the following:
  • In rare cases, gefitinib has been reported to cause lung disease that is severe enough to require hospitalization and, in some cases, has caused death. People who have received previous radiation therapy or chemotherapy may have a higher risk for lung disease from gefitinib. Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you develop sudden shortness of breath, cough, or fever during gefitinib treatment.
  • Gefitinib may increase liver enzymes, which could be a sign of liver problems. Your healthcare provider will monitor your liver function using blood tests periodically during treatment.
  • Because gefitinib is removed from the body primarily by the liver, people with liver disease may have higher gefitinib blood levels.
  • Gefitinib is a pregnancy Category D medication, which means it may harm an unborn child. Talk to your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of using this medication during pregnancy (see Iressa and Pregnancy).
  • It is unknown whether gefitinib passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking the drug (see Iressa and Breastfeeding).
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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