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J Clin Oncol. 2009 Sep 10;27(26):4247-53. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2009.22.6993. Epub 2009 Aug 10.

Clinical features and outcome of patients with non-small-cell lung cancer who harbor EML4-ALK.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Warren 501c, 55 Fruit St, Boston, MA 02114, USA.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

The EML4-ALK fusion oncogene represents a novel molecular target in a small subset of non-small-cell lung cancers (NSCLC). To aid in identification and treatment of these patients, we examined the clinical characteristics and treatment outcomes of patients who had NSCLC with and without EML4-ALK.

PATIENTS AND METHODS:

Patients with NSCLC were selected for genetic screening on the basis of two or more of the following characteristics: female sex, Asian ethnicity, never/light smoking history, and adenocarcinoma histology. EML4-ALK was identified by using fluorescent in situ hybridization for ALK rearrangements and was confirmed by immunohistochemistry for ALK expression. EGFR and KRAS mutations were determined by DNA sequencing.

RESULTS:

Of 141 tumors screened, 19 (13%) were EML4-ALK mutant, 31 (22%) were EGFR mutant, and 91 (65%) were wild type (WT/WT) for both ALK and EGFR. Compared with the EGFR mutant and WT/WT cohorts, patients with EML4-ALK mutant tumors were significantly younger (P < .001 and P = .005) and were more likely to be men (P = .036 and P = .039). Patients with EML4-ALK-positive tumors, like patients who harbored EGFR mutations, also were more likely to be never/light smokers compared with patients in the WT/WT cohort (P < .001). Eighteen of the 19 EML4-ALK tumors were adenocarcinomas, predominantly the signet ring cell subtype. Among patients with metastatic disease, EML4-ALK positivity was associated with resistance to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). Patients in the EML4-ALK cohort and the WT/WT cohort showed similar response rates to platinum-based combination chemotherapy and no difference in overall survival.

CONCLUSION:

EML4-ALK defines a molecular subset of NSCLC with distinct clinical characteristics. Patients who harbor this mutation do not benefit from EGFR TKIs and should be directed to trials of ALK-targeted agents.

Comment in

PMID:
19667264
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2744268
Free PMC Article

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