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Large Proportion of Patients With NSCLC Not Undergoing EGFR/ALK Biomarker Testing

Posted: Friday, March 17, 2017

Despite the growing trend toward biomarker testing for all patients with newly diagnosed stage IV non–small cell lung cancer, a large percentage of those treated in the community are never tested, according to a study published in late 2016 in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology. (J Thorac Oncol 2016;11[11S]:S249-S250, ORAL01.02, PMID: 27969441). Now that a checkpoint inhibitor has been approved for first-line use for patients with certain levels of PD-L1, and targeted therapies are considered the best options for those with relevant mutations, it would seem imperative that patients with newly diagnosed NSCLC are routinely tested to guide treatment decisions. Nevertheless, according to researchers, who are conducting a large prospective observational study of patients with lung cancer who are diagnosed in the community (2004 to 2016), only about half of patients are tested for ALK alterations and only about 60% are tested at any point during treatment for EGFR findings. It appears that such testing is related to techniques used for obtaining tissue samples and on the quality of the biopsies obtained.