Gefitinib is an inhibitor of the tyrosine kinase activity of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Accumulating evidence suggests that gefitinib may provide a survival benefit to EGFR mutation-positive non-small lung cancer patients. We have established a clinical test that can detect EGFR mutations from cytological specimens or paraffin-embedded tissue specimens that are contaminated by normal cells. This test is based on the peptide nucleic acid, locked nucleic acid polymerase chain reaction clamp method that can detect G719S, G719C, L858R, L861Q and seven different exon 19 deletions in the presence of 100-1000-fold wild-type alleles. Consequently, using a small aliquot of samples isolated to establish a cancer diagnosis, the EGFR mutation status is determined soon after the diagnosis of cancer is made. We investigated the EGFR mutation status in 86 patients using a variety of cytological specimens (59 bronchoscopy specimens, 16 pleural effusion, 9 sputum, and 2 pericardial effusion) and in 46 patients who had a disease relapse and paraffin-embedded tissues were available. Forty-five patients (34%) were positive for mutation (29 exon 19 deletions, 16 L858R and 1 L861Q). The sensitivity and the specificity of this test was 97% and 100%, respectively. EGFR mutation status thereby obtained was used to determine each patient's therapeutic regimen. This test is easily integrated into the normal clinical practice for lung cancer, while allowing the medical staff to select therapeutic regimen depending on the EGFR mutation status.