Genomic Profiling of Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer in Community Settings: Gaps and Opportunities

Clin Lung Cancer. 2017 Nov;18(6):651-659. doi: 10.1016/j.cllc.2017.04.004. Epub 2017 Apr 13.


Background: National guidelines have advocated broad molecular profiling as a part of the standard diagnostic evaluation for advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), with the goal of identifying driver mutations for which effective therapies or clinical trials are available. However, adherence to genomic testing guidelines could present challenges to community oncologists.

Patients and methods: We performed a retrospective review of genomic testing patterns in patients with nonsquamous NSCLC treated by 89 oncologists at 15 sites throughout New Jersey and Maryland from January 2013 to December 2015.

Results: A total of 814 patients (89% with stage IV; 11% with stage IIIB) were identified in the COTA Inc database. Of the 814 patients, 479 (59%) met the guideline recommendations for EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) and ALK (anaplastic lymphoma kinase) biomarker testing; 63 (8%) underwent comprehensive genomic profiling for all 4 major types of alterations (point mutations, indels, fusions, and copy number amplifications). Gender, age, race, site of care (referral vs. community center), and practice size did not influence comprehensive genomic profiling frequency. Active smokers and patients who died within 30 days were tested less frequently (P < .05). Among those not tested for EGFR and ALK, 52% received chemotherapy without documented reasons for no testing, 32% did not receive antineoplastic therapy, and 13% had insufficient tissue for genotyping.

Conclusion: Genomic testing presents multiple logistical challenges for the community-based oncologist, including coordination of sample handling, long turnaround times, test reimbursement, access to targeted therapies, insufficient tissue, and patient harm from the repeat biopsies necessary if the tissue sample is insufficient. Opportunities exist for improvement in guideline adherence, possibly through new technologies such as "liquid biopsies," which obviates the need tissue biopsy samples in select settings.

Keywords: Matched therapy; NSCLC; Next-generation sequencing; Targeted therapy; Under genotyping.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Community Health Services / methods
  • ErbB Receptors / genetics
  • Female
  • Genetic Testing / methods
  • Genomics / methods*
  • Genotype
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Maryland
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • New Jersey
  • Oncologists / statistics & numerical data
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • ALK protein, human
  • Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase
  • EGFR protein, human
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases