Heterogeneous Responses to Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors (TKIs) in Patients with Uncommon EGFR Mutations: New Insights and Future Perspectives in this Complex Clinical Scenario

Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Mar 21;20(6):1431. doi: 10.3390/ijms20061431.


Uncommon Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) mutations represent a distinct and highly heterogeneous subgroup of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancers (NSCLCs), that accounts for approximately 10% of all EGFR-mutated patients. The incidence of uncommon EGFR mutations is growing, due to the wider adoption of next-generation sequencing (NGS) for diagnostic purposes, which enables the identification of rare variants, usually missed with available commercial kits that only detect a limited number of EGFR mutations. However, the sensitivity of uncommon mutations to first- and second-generation EGFR Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors (TKIs) is widely heterogeneous and less well known, compared with classic mutations (i.e., exon 19 deletions and exon 21 L858R point mutation), since most of the pivotal studies with EGFR TKIs in the first line, with few exceptions, excluded patients with rare and/or complex variants. Recently, the third generation EGFR TKI osimertinib further revolutionized the therapeutic algorithm of EGFR-mutated NSCLC, but its role in patients harboring EGFR mutations besides exon 19 deletions and/or L858R is largely unknown. Therefore, a better knowledge of the sensitivity of uncommon mutations to currently available EGFR TKIs is critical to guiding treatment decisions in clinical practice. The aim of this paper is to provide a comprehensive overview of the treatment of NSCLC patients harboring uncommon EGFR mutations with currently approved therapies and to discuss the emerging therapeutic opportunities in this peculiar subgroup of patients, including chemo-immunotherapy combinations, next-generation EGFR TKIs, and novel targeted agents.

Keywords: EGFR; NSCLC; S768I; afatinib; erlotinib; exon 20 insertions; osimertinib; poziotinib; rare mutations; uncommon mutations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / genetics*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • ErbB Receptors / antagonists & inhibitors
  • ErbB Receptors / genetics
  • Exons
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional
  • Mutation*
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Sequence Deletion
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • EGFR protein, human
  • ErbB Receptors