IMPORTANCE: The EURTAC trial demonstrated the greater efficacy of erlotinib compared with chemotherapy for the first-line treatment of European patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) harboring oncogenic epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations (exon 19 deletion or L858R mutation in exon 21) in tumor tissue.
OBJECTIVE: To assess the feasibility of using circulating free DNA (cfDNA) from blood samples as a surrogate for tumor biopsy for determining EGFR mutation status and to correlate EGFR mutations in cfDNA with outcome.
DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: This prespecified analysis was a secondary objective of the EURTAC trial using patients included in the EURTAC trial from 2007 to 2011 with available baseline serum or plasma samples. Patients had advanced NSCLC, oncogenic EGFR mutations in the tumor, and no prior chemotherapy for metastatic disease and were treated with erlotinib or chemotherapy. EGFR mutations were examined in cfDNA isolated from 97 baseline blood samples by our novel peptide nucleic acid-mediated 5´ nuclease real-time polymerase chain reaction (TaqMan) assay.
MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Overall survival (OS), progression-free survival (PFS), and response to therapy were correlated with type of EGFR mutations in cfDNA.
RESULTS: In samples from 76 of 97 (78%) patients with usable blood samples, EGFR mutations in cfDNA were detected. Median OS was shorter in patients with the L858R mutation in cfDNA than in those with the exon 19 deletion (13.7 [95% CI, 7.1-17.7] vs 30.0 [95% CI, 19.3-37.7] months; P
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: The peptide nucleic acid-mediated 5´ nuclease real-time polymerase chain reaction (TaqMan) assay used in this study can be used to efficiently assess EGFR mutations in cfDNA. The L858R mutation in cfDNA may be a novel surrogate prognostic marker.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00446225.
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