Comparison of Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Gene Mutations Identified Using Pleural Effusion and Primary Tumor Tissue Samples in Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer

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Although the use of pleural effusion samples for epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) testing in lung cancer is increasing, the accuracy rate and effectiveness of identifying EGFR mutations using these samples, rather than primary tumor tissue samples, is not established.

Materials and Methods:

One hundred ninety-two advanced, non–small cell lung cancer patients were enrolled into this study. All patients had primary tumor tissue and corresponding pleural effusion samples, and we employed the Amplification Refractory Mutation System to detect EGFR gene mutations in these samples.


The number of EGFR mutations detected in primary tumor tissue and pleural effusion samples was 119 (61.98%) and 113 (58.85%), respectively. The EGFR-mutation rate was significantly higher in female than in male patients, and in adenocarcinoma than in nonadenocarcinoma patients (P=0.000). Single mutations in exons 19 and 21 were the predominant observed mutation type, and the overall concordance rate of EGFR-mutation status between the 192 matched pleural effusion and primary tumor tissue samples was 86.98%.


We observed a high concordance rate between EGFR mutations identified using primary tumor tissue and corresponding pleural effusion samples by Amplification Refractory Mutation System. Thus, it is likely that pleural effusion sampling from advanced non–small cell lung cancer patients, especially those with adenocarcinoma, may be effective in EGFR-mutation screening.

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