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J Clin Oncol. 2005 Feb 1;23(4):857-65.

EGFR mutations in non-small-cell lung cancer: analysis of a large series of cases and development of a rapid and sensitive method for diagnostic screening with potential implications on pharmacologic treatment.

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  • 1Clinical Research Center, Center of Excellence on Aging, University-Foundation, Chieti, Italy.



It has been reported that EGFR mutations in lung carcinomas make the disease more responsive to treatment with tyrosine kinase inhibitors. We decided to evaluate the prevalence of EGFR mutations in a large series of non-small-cell lung carcinomas (NSCLCs) and to develop a rapid and sensitive screening method. PATIENTS AND METHODS We examined 860 consecutive NSCLC patients for EGFR mutations in exons 18, 19, and 21 using a dual technical approach--direct sequencing of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) products and PCR single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) analysis. Moreover, all lung adenocarcinomas were analyzed for K-ras mutations at codon 12 by allele-specific oligoprobe hybriditations.


There were no EGFR mutations in 454 squamous carcinomas and 31 large cell carcinomas investigated. Thirty-nine mutations were found in the series of 375 adenocarcinomas (10%). Mutations were present in 26% of 86 bronchioloalveolar carcinomas (BACs) and in 6% of 289 conventional lung adenocarcinomas; P = .000002. EGFR mutations and K-ras mutations were mutually exclusive. A multivariable analysis revealed that BAC histotype, being a never smoker, and female sex were independently associated with EGFR mutations (odds ratios: 4.542, 3.632, and 2.895, respectively). The SSCP analysis was accurate and sensitive, allowing identification of mutations that were undetectable (21% of cases) by direct sequencing.


Mutations in the EGFR tyrosine kinase domain define a new molecular type of lung carcinoma, more frequent in particular subsets of patients. The SSCP assay is a rapid and reliable method for the detection of EGFR kinase domain mutations in lung cancer.

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