Gilotrif (afatinib)

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: September 2023

Gilotrif® (afatinib) is a prescription drug used to treat people with non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC) that has:1

  • Certain (non-resistant) abnormal epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene(s),
  • Spread to other parts of the body (metastatic), and
  • Not been previously treated for metastatic lung cancer

Gilotrif is a targeted therapy for EGFR genes. Your doctor will perform a genetic test to find out whether your cancer is positive for EGFR genes.1

About 10 to 15 percent of people with lung cancer are EGFR-positive. People with this type of lung cancer tend to have no smoking history.2

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What are the ingredients in Gilotrif?

The active ingredient in Gilotrif is afatinib.1

How does Gilotrif work?

Gilotrif is designed to block the activating sites (tyrosine kinases) of several proteins within cancer cells. These proteins can stimulate cancer growth when the tumor has an EGFR mutation. By blocking the action of the proteins, Gilotrif may shrink the cancer or slow the cancer’s progression.1

What are the possible side effects?

The most common side effects of Gilotrif include:1

  • Diarrhea
  • Rash
  • Acne
  • Mouth sores
  • Nail inflammation
  • Dry skin, itching
  • Decreased appetite
  • Nausea, vomiting

These are not all the possible side effects of Gilotrif. Talk to your doctor about what to expect when taking Gilotrif. You also should call your doctor if you have any changes that concern you when taking Gilotrif.

Other things to know

Limit time in the sun during and after treatment with Gilotrif. Gilotrif may make your skin sensitive to sunlight. You may burn more easily and get severe sunburns. When in the sun, wear protective clothing and sunscreen to protect against sunburn.1

Before starting treatment with Gilotrif, tell your doctor if you have:1

  • Kidney or liver problems
  • Lung or breathing problems other than lung cancer
  • A history of an ulcer, tear in your stomach or intestine, or inflammation in parts of your large intestine
  • A history of severe dry eye or eye problems, or if you wear contact lenses
  • Heart problems

Gilotrif can harm an unborn baby. If you or your partner can become pregnant, you should use birth control during treatment and for some time after the last dose of Gilotrif. You should also not breastfeed during treatment with Gilotrif and for some time after the last dose. Talk to your doctor about your options for birth control and breastfeeding while taking Gilotrif.1

Before beginning treatment for lung cancer, tell your doctor about all your health conditions and any other drugs, vitamins, or supplements you are taking. This includes over-the-counter drugs.

For more information, read the full prescribing information of Gilotrif.