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Lung Cancer. 2012 Aug;77(2):319-25. doi: 10.1016/j.lungcan.2012.03.013. Epub 2012 Apr 6.

Clinicoradiologic characteristics of patients with lung adenocarcinoma harboring EML4-ALK fusion oncogene.

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Department of Thoracic Surgery, Aichi Cancer Center Hospital, Nagoya, Japan.



The fusion oncogene of echinoderm microtubule-associated protein like 4 (EML4) and anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) defines a new molecular subset of non-small-cell lung cancer. We explored the EML4-ALK gene in a relatively large cohort and reviewed the clinicoradiologic background of the patients.


We studied 720 patients with lung adenocarcinoma. The clinicopathological characteristics of each patient were compared among the subgroups stratified by the EML4-ALK gene status. For radiographic evaluation, we scored the proportion of the ground-glass opacity (GGO) component and calculated the tumor disappearance rate (TDR) in each tumor in the cohort of 168 patients that were extracted by using a case-matching procedure.


Twenty-eight (3.9%) patients harbored the EML4-ALK gene. Younger age (p=0.001), no or light history of smoking (p=0.05) and normal serum carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) level (p=0.04) were characteristics of the patients with EML4-ALK. No significant difference was observed for overall and disease free survival between the two groups. All but one tumor in the EML4-ALK-positive group exhibited no GGO, whereas half of the tumors (69/140 patients) in the EML4-ALK-negative group exhibited some GGO (p=0.0004). The mean TDRs were 0.33 and 0.54, respectively, which was significantly lower in the positive group (p=0.0006).


We identified younger age, no or light history of smoking, and normal serum CEA as clinical features of patients with EML4-ALK-positive lung adenocarcinoma. In addition, EML4-ALK-positive tumors exhibited a solid pattern on CT. These features may be of value in predicting for patient selection for ALK inhibition therapy in the absence of genetic screening.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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