BACKGROUND: When epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene mutation-positive non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) acquires resistance to the initial tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) treatment, reassessing the tumor DNA by re-biopsy is essential for further treatment selection. However, the process of TKI-sensitive tumor re-progression and whether re-biopsy is possible in all cases of acquired resistance to EGFR-TKI remain unclear.
METHODS: We retrospectively analyzed data from 69 consecutive patients with EGFR gene mutation-positive advanced NSCLC who had been treated with EGFR-TKI and exhibited disease relapse after initial disease remission. The relapsing lesions were identified at the time of RECIST-progressive disease (PD) and clinical-PD (when the attending physician judged the patient as clinically relapsing and stopped EGFR-TKI therapy). We determined the potential re-biopsy methods for each relapsing lesion and evaluated their feasibility according to difficulty and invasiveness criteria as follows: category A, accessible by conventional biopsy techniques; category B, difficult (but possible) to biopsy and accessible with invasive methods; and category C, extremely difficult to biopsy or inaccessible without using highly invasive methods, including surgical biopsy.
RESULTS: The total feasibility rate of re-biopsy (category A or B) was 68% at RECIST-PD and 84% at clinical-PD, and the most common accessible relapsing lesions were primary tumors at RECIST-PD and pleural effusion at clinical-PD. All relapsing lesions at primary sites (categories A and B) were assessed as having the potential for re-biopsy. However, re-biopsy for metastasis was assessed as difficult in a substantial proportion of the study population (42 and 20% category C at RECIST-PD and clinical-PD, respectively).
CONCLUSIONS: Re-biopsy of relapsing disease is feasible in many cases, although it may present difficulties in cases with, e.g., metastatic relapsing lesions. To facilitate treatment strategies in NSCLC patients with relapse after EGFR-TKI therapy, re-biopsy should be standardized with the use of simpler and more reliable methods.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine