Gefitinib is an oral selective inhibitor of the epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase that is an effective treatment for patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer who do not respond to platinum-based chemotherapy. We assessed four patients who had non-small cell lung cancer causing severe acute interstitial pneumonia in association with gefitinib. Although two patients recovered after treatment with steroids, the other two died from progressive respiratory dysfunction. On the basis of autopsies and bilateral distribution of diffuse ground-glass opacities in chest CTs, we diagnosed diffuse alveolar damage, which was consistent with acute interstitial pneumonia. Patients with interstitial pneumonia also had other pulmonary disorders such as previous thoracic irradiation and poor performance status. Physicians should be aware of the alveolar damage induced by gefitinib, especially for patients with these characteristic features.
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