Brazilian Journal of Pulmonology

ISSN (on-line): 1806-3756 | ISSN (printed): 1806-3713


Publication continuous and bimonthly

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Identifying activating mutations in the EGFR gene: prognostic and therapeutic implications in non-small cell lung cancer

Identificação de mutações ativadoras no gene EGFR: implicações no prognóstico e no tratamento do carcinoma pulmonar de células não pequenas

Gabriel Lima Lopes1, Edoardo Filippo de Queiroz Vattimo2, Gilberto de Castro Junior2,3

J Bras Pneumol.2015;41(4):365-375

Abstract PDF PT PDF EN Portuguese Text

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Promising new therapies have recently emerged from the development of molecular targeted drugs; particularly promising are those blocking the signal transduction machinery of cancer cells. One of the most widely studied cell signaling pathways is that of EGFR, which leads to uncontrolled cell proliferation, increased cell angiogenesis, and greater cell invasiveness. Activating mutations in the EGFR gene (deletions in exon 19 and mutation L858R in exon 21), first described in 2004, have been detected in approximately 10% of all non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients in Western countries and are the most important predictors of a response to EGFR tyrosine-kinase inhibitors (EGFR-TKIs). Studies of the EGFR-TKIs gefitinib, erlotinib, and afatinib, in comparison with platinum-based regimens, as first-line treatments in chemotherapy-naïve patients have shown that the EGFR-TKIs produce gains in progression-free survival and overall response rates, although only in patients whose tumors harbor activating mutations in the EGFR gene. Clinical trials have also shown EGFR-TKIs to be effective as second- and third-line therapies in advanced NSCLC. Here, we review the main aspects of EGFR pathway activation in NSCLC, underscore the importance of correctly identifying activating mutations in the EGFR gene, and discuss the main outcomes of EGFR-TKI treatment in NSCLC.


Keywords: Molecular targeted therapy; Receptor, epidermal growth factor; Lung neoplasms/drug therapy; Mutation; Oncogenes.




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