ALK gene rearrangements in advanced non-small cell lung carcinomas (NSCLC) are an indication for targeted therapy with crizotinib. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) using a recently approved companion in vitro diagnostic class FISH system commonly assesses ALK status. More accessible IHC is challenged by low expression of ALK-fusion transcripts in NSCLC. We compared ultrasensitive automated IHC with FISH for detecting ALK status on 318 FFPE and 40 matched ThinPrep specimens from 296 patients with advanced NSCLC. IHC was concordant with FFPE-FISH on 229 of 231 dual-informative samples (31 positive and 198 negative) and with ThinPrep-FISH on 34 of 34 samples (5 positive and 29 negative). Two cases with negative IHC and borderline-positive FFPE-FISH (15% and 18%, respectively) were reclassified as concordant based on negative matched ThinPrep-FISH and clinical data consistent with ALK-negative status. Overall, after including ThinPrep-FISH and amending the false-positive FFPE-FISH results, IHC demonstrated 100% sensitivity and specificity (95% CI, 0.86 to 1.00 and 0.97 to 1.00, respectively) for ALK detection on 249 dual-informative NSCLC samples. IHC was informative on significantly more samples than FFPE-FISH, revealing additional ALK-positive cases. The high concordance with FISH warrants IHC's routine use as the initial component of an algorithmic approach to clinical ALK testing in NSCLC, followed by reflex FISH confirmation of IHC-positive cases.
Copyright © 2013 American Society for Investigative Pathology and the Association for Molecular Pathology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.