Afatinib (Gilotrif)

Afatinib is used to treat certain types of non-small cell lung cancer that has spread to nearby tissues or to other parts of the body.

The Basics

Afatinib (brand name-Gilotrif) is an FDA-approved treatment for non-small cell lung cancer that has spread to nearby tissues or other body parts.

Afatinib is in a class of medications called kinase inhibitors. It works by preventing cancer cells from multiplying.

Let us walk you through the key things you need to know about afatinib.

How should I take afatinib (Gilotrif)?

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Take afatinib tablet by mouth on an empty stomach and with water. Swallow the tablets whole with water; do not split, chew, or crush them. You should take it 1 hour before or 2 hours after eating any food. Take abiraterone at around the same time every day.

Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take afatinib exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or more often than your doctor prescribes. Do not stop taking afatinib without talking to your doctor.

You can help them by tracking your side effects in Ankr.

What are the side effects of afatinib (Gilotrif)?

Common Side effects

Serious side effects

  • dehydration
  • decreased urination
  • swelling of the arms, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
  • rash
  • difficulty breathing
  • shortness of breath
  • rapid, irregular, or pounding heartbeat
  • pain in the right upper part of the stomach
  • dark urine

Afatinib may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication. If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online or by phone (1-800-332-1088).

Use the free Ankr platform or Ankr app to track your symptoms.

What special precautions should I follow?

Before taking afatinib or Gilotrif

  • tell your doctor about your allergies
  • tell your doctor about other intakes
  • tell your doctor if you are of Asian descent
  • tell your doctor about any other disease or symptom in the past or now
  • tell your doctor if you wear contact lenses

While you are on afatinib or Gilotrif

  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. You should not become pregnant while taking afatinib and for at least 2 weeks after your treatment. Talk to your doctor about birth control methods you can use during treatment.
  • if you become pregnant while taking afatinib, call your doctor immediately. Afatinib may harm the fetus.
  • tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding. You should not breastfeed while you are taking afatinib.
  • avoid unnecessary exposure to sunlight and wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Afatinib may make your skin sensitive to sunlight, leading to a high risk of rash and acne.

I forgot a dose. What should I do?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is less than 12 hours before you are scheduled to take your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.

In case of an emergency/overdose

IIn case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can’t be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.

Symptoms of overdose may include:

How should I safely store and dispose of afatinib (Gilotrif)?

Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).

To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach.

You should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA’s Safe Disposal of Medicines website ( for more information.

What special dietary instructions should I follow?

Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.

Brand names

  • Gilotrif®

Last Revised – 02/22/2023, FDA updated – 06/16/2018, SG

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DISCLAIMER: No part of this content constitutes medical advice, opinion, or should be used for medical decision making without consultation with a licenced medical practitioner and under a patient-provider relationship. All information on the website is provided without any claims of accuracy. For full terms and conditions, visit this link. Content curated by the Ankr team.

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