Dichotomous ALK-IHC Is a Better Predictor for ALK Inhibition Outcome than Traditional ALK-FISH in Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

A. J. van der Wekken*, R. Pelgrim, N. 't Hart, N. Werner, M. F. Mastik, L. Hendriks, E. H. F. M. van der Heijden, M. Looijen-Salamon, A. J. de langen, J. Staal-van den Brekel, S. Riemersma, B. E. van den Borne, E. J. M. Speel, A-M. C. Dingemans, T. J. N. Hiltermann, A. van den Berg, W. Timens, E. Schuuring, H. J. M. Groen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Purpose: ALK rearrangement detection using FISH is the standard test to identify patients with non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) eligible for treatment with ALK inhibitors. Recently, ALK protein expression in resectable NSCLC showed predictive value. We evaluated tumor response rate and survival after crizotinib treatment of patients with advanced NSCLC with ALK activation using both dichotomous immunohistochemical (IHC) staining and FISH.

Experimental Design: Patients with stage IV NSCLC treated with crizotinib were selected. Tumor response was assessed. ALK rearrangements were detected by FISH (Vysis ALK-break-apart FISH-Probe KIT) and IHC [Ventana ALK (D5F3) CDx assay]. Cohorts of patients with ALK-FISH-positive advanced NSCLC from four other hospitals were used for validation.

Results: Twenty-nine consecutive patients with ALK-positive advanced NSCLC diagnosed by FISH and/or IHC on small biopsies or fine-needle aspirations (FNA) were treated with ALK inhibitors. All ALK-IHC-positive patients responded to crizotinib except three with primary resistance. No tumor response was observed in 13 ALK-FISH-positive but ALK-IHC-negative patients. This was confirmed in an external cohort of 16 patients. Receiver operator characteristic (ROC) curves for ALK-IHC and ALK-FISH compared with treatment outcome showed that dichotomous ALK-IHC outperforms ALK-FISH [tumor response area under the curve: (AUC), 0.86 vs. 0.64, P = 0.03; progression-free survival (PFS): AUC0.86 vs. 0.36, P = 0.005; overall survival (OS): AUC, 0.78 vs. 0.41, P = 0.01, respectively].

Conclusions: Dichotomous ALK-IHC is superior to ALK-FISH on small biopsies and FNA to predict tumor response and survival to crizotinib for patients with advanced NSCLC. Our data strongly suggest adapting the guidelines and using dichotomous ALK-IHC as standard companion diagnostic test to select patients with NSCLC who benefit from ALK-targeting therapy. (C) 2017 AACR.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4251-4258
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017



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