Mutations in the epidermal growth factor receptor and in KRAS are predictive and prognostic indicators in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer treated with chemotherapy alone and in combination with erlotinib

J Clin Oncol. 2005 Sep 1;23(25):5900-9. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2005.02.857. Epub 2005 Jul 25.


Purpose: Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations have been associated with tumor response to treatment with single-agent EGFR inhibitors in patients with relapsed non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The implications of EGFR mutations in patients treated with EGFR inhibitors plus first-line chemotherapy are unknown. KRAS is frequently activated in NSCLC. The relationship of KRAS mutations to outcome after EGFR inhibitor treatment has not been described.

Patients and methods: Previously untreated patients with advanced NSCLC in the phase III TRIBUTE study who were randomly assigned to carboplatin and paclitaxel with erlotinib or placebo were assessed for survival, response, and time to progression (TTP). EGFR exons 18 through 21 and KRAS exon 2 were sequenced in tumors from 274 patients. Outcomes were correlated with EGFR and KRAS mutations in retrospective subset analyses.

Results: EGFR mutations were detected in 13% of tumors and were associated with longer survival, irrespective of treatment (P < .001). Among erlotinib-treated patients, EGFR mutations were associated with improved response rate (P < .05) and there was a trend toward an erlotinib benefit on TTP (P = .092), but not improved survival (P = .96). KRAS mutations (21% of tumors) were associated with significantly decreased TTP and survival in erlotinib plus chemotherapy-treated patients.

Conclusion: EGFR mutations may be a positive prognostic factor for survival in advanced NSCLC patients treated with chemotherapy with or without erlotinib, and may predict greater likelihood of response. Patients with KRAS-mutant NSCLC showed poorer clinical outcomes when treated with erlotinib and chemotherapy. Further studies are needed to confirm the findings of this retrospective subset analysis.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Carboplatin / administration & dosage
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / genetics*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • ErbB Receptors / genetics*
  • Erlotinib Hydrochloride
  • Female
  • Genes, ras*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Paclitaxel / administration & dosage
  • Placebos
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Quinazolines / therapeutic use*
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Placebos
  • Quinazolines
  • Carboplatin
  • Erlotinib Hydrochloride
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Paclitaxel