Clinical implementation of circulating tumour DNA testing for EGFR T790M for detection of treatment resistance in non-small cell lung cancer

Lung Cancer

Spence T, et al. J Clin Pathol 2020.


AIMS: Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) T790M mutations can be detected in the circulating tumour DNA from plasma of patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) to triage patients for osimertinib eligibility and monitor patients longitudinally for development of T790M-mediated resistance.

METHODS: Using droplet digital PCR (ddPCR), we examined the EGFR T790M status of 343 sequential patients with NSCLC and correlated mutational status with demographic and clinical features. Where available, serial T790M blood test results were assessed to identify clinical triggers and timing of repeat testing.

RESULTS: Of the 343 patients with liquid biopsy test results, 24% were T790M positive. No clear clinical correlation with a T790M positive test result was identified in this study, although the number of metastatic sites did correlate significantly with the presence of EGFR sensitising mutations (L858R or exon 19 deletion) in patient plasma, as a measure of tumour DNA shedding. Of the 59 serial blood tests from patients that initially tested negative, 14% were positive on sequential testing, at a time interval up to 6 months after an initially negative blood test.

CONCLUSIONS: The ddPCR test for EGFR T790M mutations effectively triaged 24% of patients for treatment with osimertinib, avoiding the need for invasive tissue biopsy in these patients. Our findings suggest that initial and repeat ctDNA testing can be used to monitor for acquired EGFR T790M resistance for NSCLC.