Epidermal growth factor receptor gene copy number and protein level are not associated with outcome of non-small-cell lung cancer patients treated with chemotherapy

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Abstract

Background

Survival benefit of non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients treated with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors is predicted by high EGFR gene copy number and by strong EGFR protein expression. Clinical relevance of these features in patients treated with chemotherapy has not been reported.

Patients and methods

This study included 82 NSCLC patients treated with chemotherapy. There were 45% of females, 6% of never smokers and 45% of patients diagnosed with adenocarcinoma. EGFR gene copy number was evaluated by fluorescence in situ hybridization and EGFR protein level by immunohistochemistry.

Results

High EGFR gene copy number and protein level were found in 33% and 71% of patients, respectively. Both markers were significantly associated (P=0.01). For objective response and disease control, there was no difference between patients defined as negative or positive for both EGFR gene copy number (P=0.39 and P=1.00, respectively) and for EGFR protein (P=1.00 and P=0.80, respectively). There were no differences in progression-free and overall survival according to EGFR gene copy number (P=0.76 and P=0.82, respectively) and protein level (P=0.67 and P=0.62, respectively).

Conclusion

In chemotherapy-treated NSCLC patients, EGFR gene copy number was positively associated with protein level but none of the features were predictive for either treatment response or survival.

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