Epidermal growth factor receptor mutations in needle biopsy/aspiration samples predict response to gefitinib therapy and survival of patients with advanced nonsmall cell lung cancer

Int J Cancer. 2006 Feb 15;118(4):963-9. doi: 10.1002/ijc.21458.


Recently, mutations in the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene in nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients were reported to correlate with gefitinib response. Less than 30% of NSCLC patients are surgically resectable; however, molecular analysis has to rely on nonsurgical diagnostic tissue samples. The objective of this study is to investigate EGFR mutation analysis on needle biopsy/aspiration samples and its correlations with gefitinib response and patients' survival. EGFR mutation was assessed from DNA of 63 paraffin-embedded small needle biopsy/aspiration specimens from 62 patients with NSCLC treated with gefitinib. The peripheral blood lymphocyte DNA of the patients was sequenced to verify the EGFR mutation. EGFR mutations were found in 47% of 62 patients (60% of 20 CT-guided biopsies, 44% of 18 ultrasound-guided biopsies, 31% of 16 endoscopic biopsies and 44% of 9 effusion cell blocks). EGFR mutations were frequently present in females (p = 0.006) and never smokers (p = 0.04). Patients with EGFR mutations had a significantly better response rate compared to that of the nonmutation group (p < 0.001). Multivariate analysis showed that EGFR mutation (p < 0.001) and PS 0-1 (p = 0.02) were independently associated with a better response rate. Cox regression analysis showed that EGFR mutation was the independent prognostic factor for progression-free survival (p = 0.008) and overall survival (p = 0.03). In conclusion, EGFR mutation analysis is feasible in needle biopsy/aspiration paraffin-fixed specimens. EGFR mutation is an independent predictor of gefitinib response and survival in patients of advanced NSCLC treated by gefitinib.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / genetics*
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • ErbB Receptors / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gefitinib
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Quinazolines / therapeutic use*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Quinazolines
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Gefitinib