The detection of mutations in the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene, which predict sensitivity to treatment with EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), represents a major advance in the treatment of lung adenocarcinoma. KRAS mutations confer resistance to EGFR -TKIs. The prevalence of these mutations in African-American patients has not been thoroughly investigated.
We collected formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded material from resected lung adenocarcinomas from African-American patients at three institutions for DNA extraction. The frequencies of EGFR exon 19 deletions, exon 21 L858R substitutions and KRAS mutations in tumor specimens from African-American patients were compared to data in Caucasian patients (n=476).
EGFR mutations were detected in 23 of the 121 specimens from African-American patients (19%, 95% CI 13–27%), while KRAS mutations were found in 21 (17%, 95% CI 12−25%). There was no significant difference between frequencies of EGFR mutations comparing African-American and Caucasian patients, 19% vs. 13% (61/476, 95% CI 10–16%) (p=0.11). KRAS mutations were more likely among Caucasians, 26% (125/476, 95% CI 23−30%) (p=0.04).
This is the largest study to date examining the frequency of mutations in lung adenocarcinomas in African-Americans. Although KRAS mutations were somewhat less likely, there was no difference between the frequencies of EGFR mutations in African-American patients as compared to Caucasians. These results suggest that all patients with advanced lung adenocarcinomas should undergo mutational analysis prior to initiation of therapy.