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Detection of EGFR gene mutations in non-small cell lung cancer: Lessons from a single-institution routine analysis of 1,403 tumor samples

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Activating mutations of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) in lung tumors are associated with a dramatic response to tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Therefore, routine analysis of pathological specimens is mandatory in clinical practice. We have prospectively tested tumors from Caucasian lung tumor patients between January 2010 and June 2012. DNA was extracted from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissues following macrodissection. The p.L858R substitution was assessed by allele-specific PCR and exon 19 deletions by PCR and DNA fragment analysis. Using a robust process from patient sampling to screening methods, we analyzed samples from 1,403 patients. The EGFR status could be successfully determined for 1,322 patients. EGFR mutations were detected in 179 (13.5%) patients, with female and adenocarcinoma histology predominance. Mutated patients were significantly older than nonmutated patients. Similar mutation rates were obtained with primary tumors and metastases, and with surgical resection, bronchial biopsies, CT-guided needle biopsies and transbronchial needle aspiration. The sensitivity of our assays allowed us to detect EGFR mutations in samples poor (<10%) in tumor cells. Finally, the mutation rate was much higher in tumors expressing the TTF-1 antigen (145/820; 17.7%) than in TTF-1 negative tumors (3/218; 1.4%). The results obtained through routine analysis of more than 1,300 samples indicated that all types of specimen can be analyzed without any significant bias. TTF-1 immunostaining may be used to predict negative EGFR mutation status.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biochemistry, Nantes University Hospital, Nantes, France 2: Department of Pathology, Nantes University Hospital, Nantes, France

Publication date: January 1, 2013

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  • The International Journal of Oncology provides an international forum for the publication of the latest, cutting-edge research in the broad area of oncology and cancer treatment. The journal accepts original high quality works and reviews on all aspects of oncology research including carcinogenesis, metastasis, epidemiology, chemotherapy and viral oncology. Through fair and efficient peer review, the journal is dedicated to publishing top tier research in the field, offering authors rapid publication as well as high standards of copy-editing and production. The International Journal of Oncology is published on a monthly basis in both print and early online.
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