ALK gene copy number gains in non-small-cell lung cancer: Prognostic impact and clinico-pathological correlations

U. Peretti, R. Ferrara, S. Pilotto, S. Kinspergher, M. Caccese, A. Santo, M. Brunelli, A. Caliò, L. Carbognin, I. Sperduti, M. Garassino, M. Chilosi, A. Scarpa, G. Tortora, E. Bria

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Background: The correlation between ALK gene copy number gain (ALK-CNG) and prognosis in the context of advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) remains a controversial issue. This study aimed to evaluate the association among ALK-CNG according to Fluorescent In Situ Hybridization (FISH), clinical characteristics and survival in resectable and advanced NSCLC. Methods: Clinical and pathological data of patients with resectable and advanced NSCLC were retrospectively collected. Tumor tissues were analyzed for ALK-CNG by FISH, and patients were divided in 3 groups/patterns on the basis of ALK signals: disomic [Pattern A], 3-7 signals [Pattern B], >7 signals [Pattern C]. The association between clinical and pathological features and ALK-CNG patterns was evaluated. Disease/progression-free and overall survival (DFS/PFS and OS) were estimated using the Kaplan-Meyer method. Results: A number of 128 (76.6 %) out of the 167 eligible patients were evaluable for ALK-CNG, displaying pattern A, B and C in 71 (42.5 %), 42 (25.1 %) and 15 (9 %) patients, respectively. Gains in ALK-CNG appear to be more frequent in smokers/former smokers than in non-smokers (74.2 % versus 20.4 %, respectively, p = 0.03). Pattern A and C seem more frequently associated with higher T-stage (T3-4), while pattern B appears more represented in lower T-stage (T 1-2) (p = 0.06). No significant differences in survival rate were observed among the above groups. Conclusions: A high ALK-CNG pattern might be associated with smoking status and theoretically it might mirror genomic instability. The implications for prognosis should be prospectively investigated and validated in larger patients' series. Trial registration: We confirm that all the study was performed in accordance with relevant guidelines and regulations and that all the protocol (part of a larger project MFAG 2013 N.14282) was approved by the local Ethics Committee of the Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Integrata of Verona on November 11st, 2014.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105
JournalRespiratory Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 25 2016


  • Anaplastic lymphoma kinase
  • Clinico-pathological characteristics
  • Copy number gain
  • Lung cancer
  • Prognosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine

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