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Identification of EGFR Mutations Impacts Overall Prognosis in Lung Cancers

Brennan J. Decker, MD, PhD
Published Online:8:00 PM, Fri December 6, 2019

Brennan J. Decker, MD, PhD, a clinical fellow in the Department of Pathology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, discusses the role of identifying EGFR mutations in patients with lung cancers. In lung adenocarcinoma, there are many different activating mutations that can lead to the development of cancer, Decker explains.

Molecular mutations, such as the EGFR mutation, can be thought of like flipping a switch that activates cancer in some way. The major breakthrough in the treatment of patients with EGFR-positive lung cancer has been the development of osimertinib (Tagrisso) and other EGFR-targeted therapies, according to Decker.

The EGFR gene is a signaling molecule, and when this “switch” is turned on in patients with lung cancer, it can cause uncontrollable cancer growth, Decker says. These EGFR-directed therapies help in slowing down the signaling and has been beneficial in terms of overall prognosis in patients. However, Decker notes that these treatments only benefit patients with the EGFR mutation.
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