HealthDay News — For patients receiving anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) treatment, the risk of developing skin rash is reduced for those taking prophylactic antibiotics, according to a review published online  in the British Journal of Dermatology.

Fausto Petrelli, MD, from Piazzale Ospedale in Treviglio, Italy, and colleagues conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to examine whether prophylactic antibiotics can reduce the occurrence and severity of anti-EGFR drug-related skin rashes. Data were included for 1,073 patients from 13 studies.

The researchers found that, compared to patients without antibiotic prophylaxis, patients in the prophylactic antibiotic arms had a reduced risk of developing a skin rash in all studies (odds ratio, 0.53). Based on 12 studies, moderate-to-severe toxicities were reduced by almost 70% (odds ratio, 0.32). This corresponded to a 26% absolute difference of high-grade skin rash versus control arms (from 50 to 24 percent).

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“Taking preemptive tetracyclines for several weeks at the start of anti-EGFR treatment can significantly reduce the incidence and severity of cutaneous acneiform rash,” the authors write.


1. Petrelli F, Borgonvo K, Cabiddu M. Antibiotic prophylaxis for skin toxicity induced by anti-EGFR agents: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BJD. 2016; DOI: 10.1111/bjd.14756.