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Clin Cancer Res. 2005 Aug 15;11(16):5878-85.

Activating mutations in the tyrosine kinase domain of the epidermal growth factor receptor are associated with improved survival in gefitinib-treated chemorefractory lung adenocarcinomas.

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  • 1Catalan Institute of Oncology, Pathology Department, Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol, Badalona, Spain.



Activating mutations in the tyrosine kinase domain of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) confer a strong sensitivity to gefitinib, a selective tyrosine kinase inhibitor of EGFR.


We examined EGFR mutations at exons 18, 19, and 21 in tumor tissue from 68 gefitinib-treated, chemorefractory, advanced non-small cell lung cancer patients from the United States, Europe, and Asia and in a highly gefitinib-sensitive non-small cell lung cancer cell line and correlated their presence with response and survival. In addition, in a subgroup of 28 patients for whom the remaining tumor tissue was available, we examined the relationship among EGFR mutations, CA repeats in intron 1 of EGFR, EGFR and caveolin-1 mRNA levels, and increased EGFR gene copy numbers.


Seventeen patients had EGFR mutations, all of which were in lung adenocarcinomas. Radiographic response was observed in 16 of 17 (94.1%) patients harboring EGFR mutations, in contrast with 6 of 51 (12.6%) with wild-type EGFR (P < 0.0001). Probability of response increased significantly in never smokers, patients receiving a greater number of prior chemotherapy regimens, Asians, and younger patients. Median survival was not reached for patients with EGFR mutations and was 9.9 months for those with wild-type EGFR (P = 0.001). EGFR mutations tended to be associated with increased numbers of CA repeats and increased EGFR gene copy numbers but not with EGFR and caveolin-1 mRNA overexpression (P = not significant).


The presence of EGFR mutations is a major determinant of gefitinib response, and targeting EGFR should be considered in preference to chemotherapy as first-line treatment in lung adenocarcinomas that have demonstrable EGFR mutations.

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