Comprehensive Analysis of the Discordance ofEGFRMutation Status between Tumor Tissues and Matched Circulating Tumor DNA in Advanced Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer

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This study aimed to address the underlying reasons for and clinical significance of the discordant EGFR mutation (EGFRm) status between tumor tissue (TT) and circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA).


Three groups of EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor (EGFR TKI)-treated patients whose EGFRm status was determined by the amplification refractory mutation system (ARMS) were included (group A, TT-positive/ctDNA-positive EGFRm status; group B, TT-negative/ctDNA-positive EGFRm status; and group C, TT-positive/ctDNA-negative EGFRm status). Patients with discordant EGFRm status were reevaluated by droplet digital polymerase chain reaction (ddPCR) and next-generation sequencing. Meanwhile, surgical tumor specimens were microdissected for EGFRm detection by ddPCR.


Of the 2463 patients with matched TT and ctDNA specimens, 1017 patients carried EGFRm in TT and/or ctDNA by the ARMS. Of these 1017 patients, 472 received EGFR TKIs, including 264, 28, and 180 in groups A, B, and C, respectively. The median progression-free survivals of those receiving EGFR TKIs across the three groups were similar (p = 0.062). Through ddPCR and next-generation sequencing of biopsy specimens (n = 22) and microdissected surgical specimens (n = 5), 27 patients in group B were identified as harboring EGFRm. After reevaluation by ddPCR, 64 patients in group C tested positive for EGFRm in their ctDNA. ctDNA as a screen for EGFRm then tissues as supplement (ctDNA→TT pattern) had similar detection efficiency and saved about 30% of TT compared with TT for initial EGFRm detection followed by ctDNA (TT→ctDNA pattern).


Intratumor heterogeneity and the relatively low sensitivity of the ARMS contributed to discordant EGFRm status between TT specimens and ctDNA. The ctDNA→TT pattern might be a rational clinical procedure for EGFRm determination.

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