Targeted therapy-induced diarrhea: A review of the literature

Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2014 May;90(2):165-79. doi: 10.1016/j.critrevonc.2013.11.008. Epub 2013 Dec 5.


Purpose of research: Revision of the literature on targeted therapy-induced diarrhea (TT-ID).

Principal results: TT-ID is frequent; the mechanisms are mainly secretive, followed by ischemic or autoimmune ones. The duration of TT-ID is protracted over time. Its intensity is of grade G1-G3 but may be fatal in patients with diffuse colitis or on ipilimumab. However, no specific guidelines are available on management of different grades of TT-ID. Preventive measures with antibiotics, probiotics or activated charcoal should be further investigated. Loperamide is the first choice drug followed by octreotide. The role of corticosteroids is controversial.

Conclusion: Early assessment and management of TT-ID is essential to prevent the worsening of this side-effect, patients' hospitalization and dose reduction or oncological treatment discontinuation. Future research is needed to better understand the pathophysiological mechanisms of TT-ID and it should also be investigated whether a specific pharmacological and/or non pharmachological approach is indicated.

Keywords: Assessment; Diarrhea; Incidence; Targeted therapy; Treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Diarrhea / chemically induced*
  • Humans


  • Antineoplastic Agents