Cetuximab-induced skin reactions are suppressed by cigarette smoking in patients with advanced colorectal cancer

Makoto Kajizono, Madoka Saito, Megumu Maeda, Kazuhiko Yamaji, Satoko Fujiwara, Yoichi Kawasaki, Hisashi Matsunaga, Toshiaki Sendo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Smoking is widely accepted as the most important risk factor for cancer in the modern world. Several constituents of cigarette smoke are known to interact with drug-metabolizing enzymes, potentially affecting the outcomes of drug treatment. Cetuximab (Erbitux®; Merck Serono) is indicated for the treatment of colorectal cancer with respect to restoring chemosensitivity to irinotecan in irinotecan-resistant patients. The purpose of this study was to determine whether cigarette smoking adversely affects the actions of cetuximab in the treatment of colorectal cancer. Methods: We studied 56 patients with colorectal cancer who were treated with cetuximab in our hospital during the time period from 2009 through 2010. We compared the adverse reaction rates of 16 patients who smoked (smokers) with those of 38 patients who did not smoke (non-smokers, including 16 patients who never smoked and 22 patients who were former smokers). Results: The incidence of skin reactions after cetuximab treatment was lower in the smokers than in the non-smokers. In addition, the incidence of anorexia was higher in the smokers than in the non-smokers. Within the group of non-smokers, no statistically significant differences were observed between the never smokers and the former smokers with regard to adverse reactions. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that cigarette smoking during anticancer treatment with cetuximab-based regimens reduces the skin reaction, which leads to a reduction in the benefit of the treatment; therefore, patients should quit smoking, at least while receiving cetuximab-based treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)684-688
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013


  • Advanced colorectal cancer
  • Adverse reactions
  • Cetuximab
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Skin reactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Hematology
  • Oncology


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