Distinct clinical outcomes of non-small cell lung cancer patients with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations treated with EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors: non-responders versus responders

Shih-Hsin Hsiao, H Eugene Liu, Hsin-Lun Lee, Chii-Lan Lin, Wei-Yu Chen, Zhung-Han Wu, Sey-En Lin, Ling-Ling Chiang, Chi-Li Chung
PloS One 2013, 8 (12): e83266

INTRODUCTION: Treatment with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) has been associated with favorable progression free survival (PFS) in patients with non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC) harboring EGFR mutations. However, a subset of this population doesn't respond to EGFR-TKI treatment. Therefore, the present study aimed to elucidate survival outcome in NSCLC EGFR-mutant patients who were treated with EGFR TKIs.

METHODS: Among the 580 consecutive NSCLC patients who were treated at our facility between 2008 and 2012, a total of 124 treatment-naïve, advanced NSCLC, EGFR-mutant patients treated with EGFR TKIs were identified and grouped into non-responders and responders for analyses.

RESULTS: Of 124 patients, 104 (84%) responded to treatment, and 20 (16%) did not; and the overall median PFS was 9.0 months. Notably, the PFS, overall survival (OS) and survival rates were significantly unfavorable in non-responders (1.8 vs. 10.3 months, hazard ratio (HR) = 29.2, 95% confidence interval (CI), 13.48-63.26, P<0.0001; 9.4 vs. 17.3 months, HR = 2.74, 95% CI, 1.52-4.94, P = 0.0008; and 58% vs. 82% in 6, 37% vs. 60% in 12, and 19 vs. 40% at 24 months, respectively). In multivariate analysis, treatment efficacy strongly affected PFS and OS, independent of covariates (HR = 47.22, 95% CI, 17.88-124.73, P<0.001 and HR = 2.74, 95% CI, 1.43-5.24, P = 0.002, respectively). However, none of the covariates except of the presence of EGFR exon 19 deletion in the tumors was significantly associated with better treatment efficacy.

CONCLUSIONS: A subset of NSCLC EGFR-mutant patients displayed unfavorable survival despite EGFR TKI administration. This observation reinforces the urgent need for biomarkers effectively predicting the non-responders and for drug development overcoming primary resistance to EGFR TKIs. In addition, optimal therapeutic strategies to prolong the survival of non-responders need to be investigated.

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