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Heterogeneous resistance mechanisms in an EGFR exon 19-mutated non-small cell lung cancer patient treated with erlotinib: Persistent FGFR3-mutation, localized transformation to EGFR-mutated SCLC, and acquired T790M EGFR-mutation

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Patients with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene-mutated non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) obtain substantial clinical benefit from EGFR tyrosine-kinase inhibitors (TKIs), but will ultimately develop TKI-resistance resulting in median progression-free survival of 9-15 months during first-line TKI-therapy. However, type and timing of TKI-resistance cannot be predicted and several mechanisms may simultaneously/subsequently occur during TKI-treatment. In this respect, we present a 49 year-old Caucasian male ex-smoker with metastatic pulmonary adenocarcinoma (ADC) that concomitantly harbored an EGFR exon 19-mutation (p.E746_A750delELREA) and a previously unreported 2bp frame-shift microdeletion in the fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 (FGFR3; p.D785fs*31) gene. Interestingly, FGFR3-mutations have previously been described in other cancer types of Caucasian patients and may represent an alternative pathway to EGFR-signaling. The patient received first-line erlotinib but after only 7 weeks showed metastatic pleural effusion, in which transformation to small cell lung cancer (SCLC) that retained the EGFR- and FGFR3-mutations was identified. Consequently, standard carboplatin-etoposide regimen for SCLC combined with erlotinib continuation was implemented obtaining significant objective response. However, after completing 6 cycles of this combination, new pulmonary and hepatic metastases appeared and showed persistence of the original EGFR- and FGFR3-mutated ADC phenotype together with acquisition of the erlotinib-resistant T790M EGFR-mutation. The patient rapidly deteriorated and deceased. Thus, this advanced EGFR-mutated NSCLC displayed very rapid onset and heterogeneous genetic and phenotypic mechanisms of TKI-resistance occurring at different times and locations of metastatic disease: concomitant FGFR3-mutation before and during TKI-treatment as potential intrinsic mechanism for the rapid progression; transformation to SCLC at first progression during TKI-therapy; acquired T790M EGFR-mutation at second progression. Our case also underlines that, when achievable, rebiopsies of progressive sites during TKI-treatment are important for identifying heterogeneous histopathological and molecular resistance mechanisms and better defining possible treatment modifications.

Original languageEnglish
JournalLung cancer (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Volume113
Pages (from-to)14-17
Number of pages4
ISSN0169-5002
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017

    Research areas

  • Journal Article

ID: 52602530