In a subset of lung adenocarcinomas, the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is activated by kinase domain mutations and/or gene amplification, but the interaction between the two types of abnormalities is complex and unclear. For this study, we selected 99 consecutive never-smoking women of East Asian origin with lung adenocarcinomas that were characterized by histologic subtype. We analyzed EGFR mutations by PCR-capillary sequencing, EGFR copy number abnormalities by fluorescence and chromogenic in situ hybridization and quantitative PCR, and EGFR expression by immunohistochemistry with both specific antibodies against exon 19 deletion-mutated EGFR and total EGFR. We compared molecular and clinicopathologic features with disease-free survival. Lung adenocarcinomas with EGFR amplification had significantly more EGFR exon 19 deletion mutations than adenocarcinomas with disomy, and low and high polysomy (100% versus 54%, P = 0.009). EGFR amplification occurred invariably on the mutated and not the wild-type allele (median mutated/wild-type ratios 14.0 versus 0.33, P = 0.003), was associated with solid histology (P = 0.008), and advanced clinical stage (P = 0.009). EGFR amplification was focally distributed in lung cancer specimens, mostly in regions with solid histology. Patients with EGFR amplification had a significantly worse outcome in univariate analysis (median disease-free survival, 16 versus 31 months, P = 0.01) and when adjusted for stage (P = 0.027). Lung adenocarcinomas with EGFR amplification have a unique association with exon 19 deletion mutations and show distinct clinicopathologic features associated with a significantly worsened prognosis. In these cases, EGFR amplification is heterogeneously distributed, mostly in areas with a solid histology.
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