JOURNAL ARTICLE

Nuclear EGFR protein expression predicts poor survival in early stage non-small cell lung cancer

Anne M Traynor, Tracey L Weigel, Kurt R Oettel, David T Yang, Chong Zhang, Kyungmann Kim, Ravi Salgia, Mari Iida, Toni M Brand, Tien Hoang, Toby C Campbell, Hilary R Hernan, Deric L Wheeler
Lung Cancer: Journal of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer 2013, 81 (1): 138-41
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INTRODUCTION: Nuclear EGFR (nEGFR) has been identified in various human tumor tissues, including cancers of the breast, ovary, oropharynx, and esophagus, and has predicted poor patient outcomes. We sought to determine if protein expression of nEGFR is prognostic in early stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

METHODS: Resected stages I and II NSCLC specimens were evaluated for nEGFR protein expression using immunohistochemistry (IHC). Cases with at least one replicate core containing ≥5% of tumor cells demonstrating strong dot-like nucleolar EGFR expression were scored as nEGFR positive.

RESULTS: Twenty-three (26.1% of the population) of 88 resected specimens stained positively for nEGFR. Nuclear EGFR protein expression was associated with higher disease stage (45.5% of stage II vs. 14.5% of stage I; p = 0.023), histology (41.7% in squamous cell carcinoma vs. 17.1% in adenocarcinoma; p = 0.028), shorter progression-free survival (PFS) (median PFS 8.7 months [95% CI 5.1-10.7 mo] for nEGFR positive vs. 14.5 months [95% CI 9.5-17.4 mo] for nEGFR negative; hazard ratio (HR) of 1.89 [95% CI 1.15-3.10]; p = 0.011), and shorter overall survival (OS) (median OS 14.1 months [95% CI 10.3-22.7 mo] for nEGFR positive vs. 23.4 months [95% CI 20.1-29.4 mo] for nEGFR negative; HR of 1.83 [95% CI 1.12-2.99]; p = 0.014).

CONCLUSIONS: Expression of nEGFR protein was associated with higher stage and squamous cell histology, and predicted shorter PFS and OS, in this patient cohort. Nuclear EGFR serves as a useful independent prognostic variable and as a potential therapeutic target in NSCLC.

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