Otorhinolaryngological Toxicities of New Drugs in Oncology

Adv Ther. 2017 Apr;34(4):866-894. doi: 10.1007/s12325-017-0512-0. Epub 2017 Mar 17.


Many new or relatively new cancer drugs-personalized anticancer agents-have been approved for use in various clinical settings in oncology or are still under evaluation in clinical trials. Targeted therapies as well as new immune checkpoint blockers have toxicity profiles that differ from conventional cytotoxic chemotherapy, and many can cause adverse effects that affect the mouth and pharynx, the nasal cavities, and the larynx. This review aims to provide an overview of current knowledge concerning these side effects and contemporary management. Adverse effects of the mouth/pharynx, nasal cavities, larynx, and cochlear-vestibular system are generally low grade (according to the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events) and generally present non-life-threatening symptoms. However, the impact on patients' quality of life could be important. The incidence and severity vary according to the drug, its target(s), and dose, but there are currently no known predictive factors, and each patient has an individual toxicity profile. Management guidelines are based on expert opinion. These ear, nose, and throat adverse effects are not frequently mentioned in the literature because of the often non-specific nature of the symptoms and their mildness, but also the absence of specific treatment. These symptoms can contribute to decreased quality of life and lead to drug compliance issues if not diagnosed and managed appropriately.

Keywords: Mucositis; Oncology; Protein kinase inhibitors; Small molecule inhibitors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Otorhinolaryngologic Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Quality of Life
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Antineoplastic Agents