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Is Gilotrif (afatinib) a chemotherapy drug?

Medically reviewed by Philip Thornton, DipPharm. Last updated on Oct 25, 2022.

Official answer


Gilotrif (afatinib) is a chemotherapy drug used to treat non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that is caused by an abnormal epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene or genes.

Gilotrif is a small molecule drug and EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor. Tyrosine kinases are a family of enzymes that play a key role in controlling the signaling processes involved in cell growth, differentiation, metabolism and death. EGFR is found on the surface of cells and helps them to grow. When the gene for it is defective or abnormal then cells can grow out of control causing cancer.

Gilotrif is a type of targeted chemotherapy because it specifically targets and blocks EGFR. Targeted chemotherapy drugs are different from traditional chemotherapy agents which attack all dividing cells, damaging healthy cells as well as cancerous ones.


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