Background: Activating mutations in the epidermal growth factor receptor gene (EGFR) confer hypersensitivity to the tyrosine kinase inhibitors gefitinib and erlotinib in patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer. We evaluated the feasibility of large-scale screening for EGFR mutations in such patients and analyzed the association between the mutations and the outcome of erlotinib treatment.
Methods: From April 2005 through November 2008, lung cancers from 2105 patients in 129 institutions in Spain were screened for EGFR mutations. The analysis was performed in a central laboratory. Patients with tumors carrying EGFR mutations were eligible for erlotinib treatment.
Results: EGFR mutations were found in 350 of 2105 patients (16.6%). Mutations were more frequent in women (69.7%), in patients who had never smoked (66.6%), and in those with adenocarcinomas (80.9%) (P<0.001 for all comparisons). The mutations were deletions in exon 19 (62.2%) and L858R (37.8%). Median progression-free survival and overall survival for 217 patients who received erlotinib were 14 months and 27 months, respectively. The adjusted hazard ratios for the duration of progression-free survival were 2.94 for men (P<0.001); 1.92 for the presence of the L858R mutation, as compared with a deletion in exon 19 (P=0.02); and 1.68 for the presence of the L858R mutation in paired serum DNA, as compared with the absence of the mutation (P=0.02). The most common adverse events were mild rashes and diarrhea; grade 3 cutaneous toxic effects were recorded in 16 patients (7.4%) and grade 3 diarrhea in 8 patients (3.7%).
Conclusions: Large-scale screening of patients with lung cancer for EGFR mutations is feasible and can have a role in decisions about treatment.
2009 Massachusetts Medical Society