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Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2010 Mar;29(1):23-36. doi: 10.1007/s10555-010-9205-8.

EGFR mutations and the terminal respiratory unit.

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Department of Pathology and Molecular Diagnostics, Aichi Cancer Center, Kanokoden, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya, 464-8681, Japan.


Considerable knowledge has accumulated about mutations of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-tyrosine kinase domain since these were first identified in 2004. Patients with nonsmall cell lung cancer with this mutation show dramatic clinical responses to treatment with EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitors, whose effectiveness has been established recently in large clinical trials. Most of the mechanisms responsible for resistance to treatment, which most responders experience eventually, have been elucidated, and methods to overcome resistance have been developed. In addition to the clinical benefit, understanding EGFR mutations sheds new light on the molecular and pathological aspects of this adenocarcinoma subset, which include frequent development in nonsmokers or females, and particular clusters within the molecular classification in lung cancer. In contrast to the involvement of EGFR mutations in the early stage of lung adenocarcinoma development, EGFR amplification is superimposed on the progression to invasive cancer. In this review, I summarize the clinicopathological characteristics of EGFR mutations in lung cancer. I also provide an overview of the current understanding of the lung adenocarcinoma subset harboring EGFR mutations with special reference to the molecular classification of lung cancer and the novel concept of the "terminal respiratory unit."

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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