Background: Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase (ALK) positivity represents a novel molecular target in a subset of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancers (NSCLC). We explore Fluorescence in situ Hybridization (FISH) and Immunohistochemistry (IHC) as diagnostic methods for ALK positive patients and to describe its prevalence and outcomes in a population of NSCLC patients.
Methods: NSCLC patients previously screened for Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) at our institution were selected. ALK positive patients were identified by FISH and the value of IHC (D5F3) was explored.
Results: ninety-nine patients were identified. Median age was 61.5 years (range 35-83), all were caucasians, eighty percent were adenocarcinomas, fifty-one percent were male and thirty-eight percent were current smokers. Seven (7.1%) patients were ALK positive by FISH, thirteen (13.1%) were EGFR mutant, and 65 (65.6%) were negative/Wild Type (WT) for both ALK and EGFR. ALK positivity and EGFR mutations were mutually exclusive. ALK positive patients tend to be younger than EGFR mutated or wt patients. ALK positive patients were predominantly never smokers (71.4%) and adenocarcinoma (71.4%). ALK positive and EGFR mutant patients have a better outcome than negative/WT. All patients with ALK FISH negative tumours were negative for ALK IHC. Out of 6 patients positive for ALK FISH with more tissue available, 5 were positive for ALK IHC and 1 negative.
Conclusions: ALK positive patients represent 7.1% of a population of selected NSCLC. ALK positive patients have different clinical features and a better outcome than EGFR WT and ALK negative patients. IHC is a promising method for detecting ALK positive NSCLC patients.