The tyrosine kinase activity of epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFRs) plays critical roles in cell proliferation, regeneration, tumorigenesis, and anticancer resistance. Non-small-cell lung cancer patients who responded to EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitors (EGFR-TKIs) and obtained survival benefits had somatic EGFR mutations. EGFR-TKI-related adverse events (AEs) are usually tolerable and manageable, although serious AEs, including lung injury (specifically, interstitial lung disease (ILD), causing 58% of EGFR-TKI treatment-related deaths), occur infrequently. The etiopathogenesis of EGFR-TKI-induced ILD remains unknown. Risk factors, such as tobacco exposure, pre-existing lung fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and poor performance status, indicate that lung inflammatory circumstances may worsen with EGFR-TKI treatment because of impaired epithelial healing of lung injuries. There is limited evidence from preclinical and clinical studies of the mechanisms underlying EGFR-TKI-induced ILD in the available literature. Herein, we evaluated the relationship between EGFR-TKIs and AEs, especially ILD. Recent reports on mechanisms inducing lung injury or resistance in cytokine-rich circumstances were reviewed. We discussed the relevance of cytotoxic agents or immunotherapeutic agents in combination with EGFR-TKIs as a potential mechanism of EGFR-TKI-related lung injury and reviewed recent developments in diagnostics and therapeutics that facilitate recovery from lung injury or overcoming resistance to anti-EGFR treatment.
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