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BMC Cancer. 2012 Nov 15;12:524. doi: 10.1186/1471-2407-12-524.

The prognostic impact of epidermal growth factor receptor in patients with metastatic gastric cancer.

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Department of Hematology and Oncology, Institute of clinical research (IKF) at Krankenhaus Nordwest, UCT-University Cancer Center, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.



The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a potential target of anticancer therapy in gastric cancer. However, its prognostic role in metastatic gastric or gastroesophageal junction (GE) cancer has not been established yet.


EGFR status was analyzed by immunohistochemistry (IHC) in paraffin-embedded samples from 357 patients who received chemotherapy in 4 first-line trials. Automated RNA extraction from paraffin and RT-quantitative PCR were additionally used to evaluate EGFR mRNA expression in 130 patients.


EGFR protein expression (any grade) and overexpression (3+) were observed in 43% and 11% of patients, respectively. EGFR positivity correlated with intestinal type histology (p = 0.05), but not with other clinicopathologic characteristics. Median follow-up was 18.2 months. Median overall survival (OS) was similar in patients with EGFR positive vs. those with EGFR negative tumors, regardless whether positivity was defined as ≥1+ (10.6 vs. 10.9 months, p = 0.463) or as 3+ (8.6 vs. 10.8 months, p = 0.377). The multivariate analysis indicated that EGFR status is not an independent prognostic factor (hazard ratio 0.85, 0.56 to 1.12, p = 0.247). There were also no significant differences in overall survival when patients were categorized according to median (p = 0.116) or quartile (p = 0.767) distribution of EGFR mRNA gene expression. Similar distributions of progression-free survival according to EGFR status were observed.


Unlike different cancer types where EGFR-positive disease is associated with an adverse prognostic value, EGFR positivity is not prognostic of patient outcome in metastatic gastric or GE cancer.

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