EGFR Exon 20 Insertion Mutations: Clinicopathological Characteristics and Treatment Outcomes in Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Clin Lung Cancer. 2021 Nov;22(6):e859-e869. doi: 10.1016/j.cllc.2021.04.009. Epub 2021 May 16.


Background: Epidermal growth factor receptor gene (EGFR) exon 20 insertion (ex20-ins) mutations are an uncommon and heterogeneous group of non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs), resistant to conventional EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). Characteristics and outcomes of patients with EGFR ex20-ins have not been fully established; we sought to clarify them using a multinational patient database.

Patients and methods: Patients with NSCLC from six Australian institutions with EGFR exon 20 mutations (ex20-mut), excluding T790M, were retrospectively reviewed. Clinical characteristics and outcomes with systemic treatments were collected and analyzed using comparative statistics.

Results: Among 109 patients with ex20-mut, 61% were females and 75% were Caucasians. More males presented with de novo metastatic disease (84% vs. 51%; P = .002). Central nervous system (48%) and liver (24%) metastases were common within metastatic patients (n = 86). Thirty-nine patients received platinum-based chemotherapy (PBC) and achieved a 43% objective response rate (ORR), median progression-free survival (mPFS) of 6.9 months, and median overall survival (mOS) of 31.0 months. Twenty-three of the patients with ex20-ins received conventional TKIs, resulting in an ORR of 13%, mPFS of 3.4 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.91-6.25), and mOS of 31.0 months (95% CI, 15.09-not reached). Nine patients with S786I mutations received TKIs, resulting in an ORR of 50%, mPFS of 18.2 months (2.79-not reached), and mOS of 33.4 months (95% CI, 16.14-not reached). Twenty-three patients received immune checkpoint inhibitor monotherapy (ICIm), resulting in an ORR of 4%, mPFS of 2.6 months (95% CI, 1.91-4.83), and mOS of 30.8 months (95% CI, 17.62-41.62).

Conclusion: Although phenotypically similar to patients with common EGFR mutations, patients with EGFR ex20-mut had worse survival, perhaps due to the lack of targeted therapies. Chemotherapy was superior to conventional EGFR TKIs in patients with EGFR ex20-ins, although there was moderate activity of TKIs in S768I mutations. ICIm was ineffective.

Keywords: EGFR Exon 20 insertion; EGFR TKI; Immune checkpoint inhibitors; Non-small cell lung cancer; TKI resistance.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology*
  • ErbB Receptors / genetics
  • Exons / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genetic Testing
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Young Adult


  • EGFR protein, human
  • ErbB Receptors