A qualitative study of the ramifications of rash from epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors

Shawnta Coleman, Irina Kovtun, Phuong L. Nguyen, Mark Pittelkow, Aminah Jatoi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective: Over 50% of cancer patients who are treated with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors develop a papulopustular rash that involves the face, neck, and upper torso. However, because relatively few previous reports have focused on the full ramifications of this drug-induced side effect, this qualitative study was undertaken. Methods: Fifteen patients who had either an active or previous rash from these agents participated in scripted interviews. All interviews were transcribed and examined by means of a qualitative methodologic approach. Results: Four major themes emerged: (1) actual physical discomfort was associated with the rash; (2) patients were concerned about their appearance; (3) despite initial denial, patients did suffer social isolation; and (4) high medical morbidity was associated with the rash. Patients voiced concerns such as: (1) 'Especially when I try to sleep, I can feel the itch and burn all over⋯'; (2) 'My face looks so bad that if I go to see my friends and they say, 'What happened to you.' I am self conscious about that'; (3) 'I just told them they would be better off just calling me, don't come visit⋯'; and (4) 'I went to the hospital for my face⋯they made a bandage to put all over [my] face⋯. [I] just had a little nose hole, a mouth hole and holes for⋯eyes.'. Conclusion: Rash from EGFR inhibitors can have a major negative impact upon cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1246-1249
Number of pages4
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors
  • morbidity
  • rash
  • social isolation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Oncology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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