Acquired Genomic Alterations on First-Line Chemotherapy With Cetuximab in Advanced Colorectal Cancer: Circulating Tumor DNA Analysis of the CALGB/SWOG-80405 Trial (Alliance)

J Clin Oncol. 2023 Jan 20;41(3):472-478. doi: 10.1200/JCO.22.00365. Epub 2022 Sep 6.


Clinical trials frequently include multiple end points that mature at different times. The initial report, typically based on the primary end point, may be published when key planned co-primary or secondary analyses are not yet available. Clinical Trial Updates provide an opportunity to disseminate additional results from studies, published in JCO or elsewhere, for which the primary end point has already been reported.Acquired genomic alterations (Acq-GAs), specifically RAS, BRAF, and EGFR-ectodomain mutations and ERBB2 and MET amplifications, are recognized as major mechanisms of resistance to later-line anti-EGFR-antibody therapy in metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). However, data regarding emergence of these Acq-GAs under the selective pressure of first-line anti-EGFR-chemotherapy are lacking. We performed next-generation sequencing (Guardant360) on circulating tumor DNA obtained from paired plasma samples (pretreatment and postprogression) from the CALGB/SWOG-80405 trial, which randomly assigned patients with mCRC between first-line chemotherapy with cetuximab (anti-EGFR-chemotherapy) or bevacizumab (anti-VEGF-chemotherapy). The primary objective was to determine the prevalence of Acq-GAs on anti-EGFR-chemotherapy and compare this to the prevalence with anti-VEGF-chemotherapy on trial and pooled estimates (N = 292) seen with later-line anti-EGFR-antibody therapy as reported in the literature. Among the 61 patients on anti-EGFR-chemotherapy, only four (6.6%) developed ≥ 1 Acq-GAs of interest compared with 10.1% (7) on anti-VEGF-chemotherapy (odds ratio, 0.62; 95% CI, 0.20 to 2.11) and 62.0% on anti-EGFR-antibody therapy in later lines (odds ratio, 0.09; 95% CI, 0.03 to 0.23). Acq-GAs, classically associated with anti-EGFR-antibody resistance in later lines (RAS, BRAF, and EGFR-ectodomain mutations; ERBB2 and MET amplifications), were rare with up-front use of anti-EGFR-chemotherapy indicating divergent resistance mechanisms. These findings have critical translational relevance to timing and value of circulating tumor DNA-guided anti-EGFR rechallenge in patients with mCRC, especially those treated with anti-EGFR therapy upfront.

Trial registration: NCT00265850.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols
  • Cetuximab* / therapeutic use
  • Circulating Tumor DNA* / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / pathology
  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / genetics


  • Cetuximab
  • Circulating Tumor DNA
  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf

Associated data