Objectives: The number of targeted drugs in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is ever-expanding and requires testing of an increasing number of predictive biomarkers. We present a comprehensive real-world evaluation of molecular testing and treatment selection in stage IV NSCLC patients in the Netherlands from 2017 to 2019.
Materials and methods: Molecular pathology reports of NSCLC patients were collected from the Dutch Pathology Registry in time intervals between Oct-2017 and April-2019 (N = 5,038 patients) to study diagnostic yield. Linkage between the Dutch Pathology Registry and the Netherlands Cancer Registry enabled studying molecular testing rates for stage IV NSCLC initially diagnosed in 2017-Q4 (N = 1,193) and application of targeted therapy in stage IV NSCLC patients with potentially druggable alterations reported between Oct-2017 and June-2018 (N = 401).
Results: Predictive molecular testing was performed in 85.0% of adenocarcinomas, 60.4% of NSCLC-not otherwise specified (NOS) and 17.4% of squamous cell carcinomas. Testing rates were highest for EGFR and ALK (adenocarcinoma: 82.7% and 80.7%, respectively). Incidence of molecular driver alterations (i.e. EGFR, KRAS, ALK, ROS1, BRAF, MET, ERBB2, FGFR1) was 61.1% for adenocarcinomas, 42.3% for NSCLC-NOS, and 24.7% for squamous cell carcinomas. Therapeutically relevant alterations were detected at a higher frequency by NGS- versus non-NGS-approaches (adenocarcinoma: 62.4% versus 56.5%, respectively (P = 0.004)) due to a lower failure rate, more comprehensive testing and higher sensitivity. Uptake of treatment with a registered targeted therapy in eligible patients varied per actionable target, i.e. EGFR: 85.8%, ALK: 74.7%, ROS1: 33.7%, BRAF: 51.5%. Treatment with agents in clinical studies/compassionate use was lower, i.e. MET: 22.8%, HER2: 18.9%, RET: 6.7%.
Conclusion: Real-world data show NGS-based approaches to be superior to non-NGS. Uptake of molecular testing and the corresponding targeted treatments was less than expected based on guidelines and even more so for trials, off-label use and compassionate use, indicating less than optimal access to rational treatment options.