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Br J Cancer. 2006 Oct 23;95(8):1070-5.

Novel heteroduplex method using small cytology specimens with a remarkably high success rate for analysing EGFR gene mutations with a significant correlation to gefitinib efficacy in non-small-cell lung cancer.

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Department of Thoracic Oncology, Kanagawa Cancer Center, Nakao 1-1-2, Asahi-ku, Yokohama 241-0815, Japan.


We conducted a feasibility study to examine whether small numbers of cancer cells could be utilised for analysis of the EGFR gene status using the loop-hybrid mobility shift assay, which is a modified heteroduplex technique. Cytology specimens obtained by transbronchial abrasion were successfully used for analysis of the EGFR gene status in 50 of 52 (96.2%) patients diagnosed with class V non-small-cell carcinoma. Furthermore, the relationship between the EGFR gene status and clinical outcome was analysed in 25 patients treated with gefitinib. Overall, 10 of 11 patients with EGFR mutations in exon 19 or 21 showed tumour regression with gefitinib treatment, compared to only two of 14 patients with wild-type EGFR. The response rate was significantly higher in the EGFR mutation group than in the wild-type EGFR group (90.9 vs 14.3%, P=0.00014). Logistic regression analysis revealed that EGFR mutations in cytology specimens represented an independent predictor of the gefitinib response. The overall and progression-free survivals were significantly longer in the EGFR mutation group than in the wild-type EGFR group (P<0.05). In conclusion, cytology specimens could be useful for analysing the EGFR status in the majority of patients with non-small-cell lung cancer to determine whether they are likely to benefit from gefitinib treatment.

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