Epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitor–induced hypomagnesemia: a survey of practice patterns among Canadian gastrointestinal medical oncologists

T. Thangarasa, J. Gotfrit, R. A. Goodwin, P. A. Tang, M. Clemons, A. Imbulgoda, M. M. Vickers


Background The optimal management of hypomagnesemia (hMg) induced by epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors (egfris) for advanced colorectal cancer is unclear. We surveyed gastrointestinal medical oncologists in Canada to determine practice patterns for the management of egfri-induced hMg.

Methods Based on distribution lists from the Eastern Canadian Colorectal Cancer Consensus Conference and the Western Canadian Gastrointestinal Cancer Consensus Conference, medical oncologists were invited to participate in an online questionnaire between November 2013 and February 2014.

Results From the 104 eligible physicians, 40 responses were obtained (38.5%). Panitumumab was more commonly prescribed than cetuximab by 70% of respondents, with 25% prescribing cetuximab and panitumumab equally. Most respondents obtain a serum magnesium level before initiating a patient on an egfri (92.5%) and before every treatment (90%). Most use a reactive strategy for magnesium supplementation (90%) and, when using supplementation, favour intravenous (iv) alone (40%) or iv and oral (45%) dosing. Magnesium sulfate was used for iv replacement, and the most common oral strategies were magnesium oxide (36.4%) and magnesium rougier (18.2%). Under the reactive strategy, intervention occurred at hMg grade 1 (70.3%) or grade 2 (27%). Of the survey respondents, 45% felt that 1–5 of their patients have ever developed symptoms attributable to hMg, and 35% have had to interrupt egfri therapy because of this toxicity, most commonly at grade 3 (30%) or grade 4 (45%) hMg. The most important question about egfri-induced hMg was its relevance to clinical outcomes (45%) and its symptoms (37.5%).

Conclusions In Canada, various strategies are used in the management of egfri-induced hMg, including prophylactic and reactive approaches that incorporate iv, oral, or a combination of iv and oral supplementation. Clinicians are concerned about the effect of hMg on clinical outcomes and about the symptoms that patients experience as a result of this toxicity.about the symptoms that patients experience as a result of this toxicity.


Epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors; hypomagnesemia; management; surveys

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3747/co.26.4591

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ISSN: 1198-0052 (Print) ISSN: 1718-7729 (Online)