Aims: Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) antagonists are particularly active in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients with tumours bearing mutations in the EFGR gene. EGFR mutation prevalence is very low in squamous histology. Response rates using these drugs in patients with KRAS mutations are low, so available KRAS mutation information may aid treatment selection in the second-line setting. Since 2009, patients presenting to this hospital with non-squamous histology have been routinely screened for mutations in both the EGFR and KRAS genes, with results used to inform treatment. We present an analysis of 215 consecutive patients for whom EGFR mutation analysis was informative.
Methodology: EGFR and KRAS mutations were identified using a COLD-PCR technique confirmed with sequencing, which makes no prior assumption about location of specific mutations. Results were correlated with clinical and demographic data from hospital records, where available.
Results: The prevalence of patients with EGFR mutations was 14% and for KRAS mutations it was 27%. Despite the conventional understanding that EGFR and KRAS mutations are mutually exclusive, we identified two dual mutations. Of 29 patients identified with mutated EGFR, there were 3/8/8/10 mutations in exons 18/19/20/21 respectively. Exon 20 mutations were identified in a proportion exceeding many other series because of the unbiased mutation analysis used, and clinical benefit was seen in some of these. Of 23 different EGFR mutations identified, 11 have not previously been described in the literature.
Conclusions: The high prevalence of EGFR, KRAS or both mutations (40%) in this non-squamous population tested in clinical practice supports a policy of routine screening for these mutations in NSCLC.