Background: Responsiveness to Cetuximab alone can be mediated by an increase of Epidermal Growth factor Receptor (EGFR) Gene Copy Number (GCN). Aim of this study was to assess the role of EGFR-GCN in advanced colorectal cancer (CRC) patients receiving chemotherapy plus Cetuximab.Methods: One hundred and one advanced CRC patients (43 untreated- and 58 pre-treated) were retrospectively studied by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) to assess EGFR-GCN and by immunohistochemistry (IHC) to determine EGFR expression. Sixty-one out of 101 patients were evaluated also for k-ras status by direct sequencing. Clinical end-points were response rate (RR), progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS).Results: Increased EGFR-GCN was found in 60/101 (59%) tumor samples. There was no correlation between intensity of EGFR-IHC and EGFR-GCN (p = 0.43). Patients receiving chemotherapy plus Cetuximab as first line treatment had a RR of 70% (30/43) while it was 18% (10/56) in the group with previous lines of therapy (p <0.0001). RR was observed in 29/60 (48%) of patients with increased EGFR-GCN and in 6/28 (21%) in those without (p = 0.02). At multivariate analyses, number of chemotherapy lines and increased EGFR-GCN were predictive of response; EGFR-IHC score, increased EGFR-GCN and number of chemotherapy lines were significantly associated with a significant better PFS. Response to therapy was the only prognostic predictive factor for OS. In the 60 patients analyzed for k-ras mutations, number of chemotherapy lines, increased EGFR-GCN and k-ras wild type status predicted a better PFS.Conclusion: In metastatic CRC patients treated with chemotherapy plus Cetuximab number of chemotherapy lines and increased EGFR-GCN were significantly associated with a better clinical outcome, independent of k-ras status.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)