Public Release: 

Blood samples as surrogates for tumor biopsies in patients with lung cancer

The JAMA Network Journals

A study examined the feasibility of using circulating free DNA (cfDNA) from blood samples of patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer as a surrogate for tumor biopsies to determine tumor-causing epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations and then correlate that with expected patient outcomes, according to a study published online by JAMA Oncology.

The analysis was a secondary objective of the EURTAC trial, which demonstrated the efficacy of erlotinib compared with standard chemotherapy for the first-line treatment of European patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with oncogenic EGFR mutations (exon 19 deletion or L858R mutations in exon 21) in tumor tissue.

Rafael Rosell, M.D., of the Hospital Germans Trias I Pujol, Badalona, Spain, and coauthors examined EGFR mutations in cfDNA isolated from 97 baseline blood samples.

Results show that in 76 samples from 97 (78 percent) patients, EGFR mutations in cfDNA were detected. Median overall survival was shorter in patients with the L858R mutation in cfDNA than in those with the exon 19 deletion (13.7 vs. 30 months). For patients with the L858R mutation in tissue, median overall survival was 13.7 months for patients with the L858R mutation in cfDNA and 27.7 months for those in whom the mutation was not detected in cfDNA. For the 76 patients with EGFR mutations in cfDNA, only erlotinib treatment was an independent predictor of longer disease progression-free survival.

"Testing of tumor tissue remains the recommended method for detecting the presence of oncogenic EGFR mutations; however, the amount of tumor tissue obtained by biopsy is often insufficient, especially in advanced NSCLC, raising the question of whether cfDNA may be used as a surrogate liquid biopsy for the noninvasive assessment of EGFR mutations," the study notes.

(JAMA Oncol. Published online February 26, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2014.257. Available pre-embargo to the media at http://media.jamanetwork.com.)

Editor's Note: Authors made conflict of interest and funding/support disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

Editorial: EGFR Mutations in Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer

In a related commentary, Roy S. Herbst, M.D., Ph.D., of the Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn., and coauthors write: "In conclusion, the updated EURTAC study demonstrates that mutations detected in cfDNA are prognostic and consistent with data obtained from tumor biopsies. ... More broadly, the potential benefits of liquid biopsies include a better evaluation of the tumor genome landscape with the identification of a comprehensive set of targetable mutations and the serial noninvasive monitoring, which may allow the detection of additional mutations from emerging subclones, including those involved in the development of acquired resistance. Finally, the presence of specific mutations in cfDNA may help identify populations of patients who are likely to have worse (or better) outcomes and who may require alternative treatments."

(JAMA Oncol. Published online February 26, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2014.278. Available pre-embargo to the media at http://media.jamanetwork.com.)

Editor's Note: Authors made conflict of interest disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

###

Media Advisory: To contact corresponding author Rafael Rosell, M.D., email rrosell@iconcologia.net. To contact corresponding editorial author Roy S. Herbst, M.D., Ph.D., call Vicky Agnew at 843-697-6208 or email vicky.agnew@yale.edu.

To place an electronic embedded link in your story: Links will be live at the embargo time: http://oncology.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?doi=10.1001/jamaoncol.2014.257 and http://oncology.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?doi=10.1001/jamaoncol.2014.278

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.