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Severe Intracranial Hypertension Associated with Tetracycline Use in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Hao-Wen Sim, Dean Cugley, Neil Shuey, Graham Lakkis, Linda Mileshkin


Introduction: Erlotinib has become an established treatment for patients with non-small cell lung cancer harbouring an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutation.  Tetracycline antibiotics are commonly prescribed for erlotinib-induced acneiform rash.  A rare but morbid complication of tetracycline use is intracranial hypertension, an association which has not been reported in the oncology literature.

Presentation of Case: We report a case of severe intracranial hypertension in a patient with non-small cell lung cancer.  Risk factors were prolonged tetracycline use and leptomeningeal carcinomatosis.  Initial investigations were unhelpful, necessitating a high index of suspicion.

Conclusion: Tetracycline antibiotics, which are commonly prescribed for erlotinib rash, are an important risk factor for intracranial hypertension.  Our patient developed severe vision loss from papilloedema, despite normal neuroimaging and relatively low opening pressure on lumbar puncture.  Continuous intracranial pressure monitoring can be a valuable investigation in such circumstances.


intracranial hypertension; pseudotumour cerebri; tetracycline; minocycline; non-small cell lung cancer

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