Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Clinicopathological features and EGFR gene mutation status in elderly patients with resected non–small-cell lung cancer

Teppei Nishii12*, Tomoyuki Yokose2, Yohei Miyagi3, Yataro Daigo4, Hiroyuki Ito1, Tetsuya Isaka1, Kentaro Imai1, Shuji Murakami1, Tetsuro Kondo1, Haruhiro Saito1, Fumihiro Oshita1, Kouzo Yamada1, Shoichi Matsukuma3, Masahiro Tsuboi5, Haruhiko Nakayama1 and Munetaka Masuda6

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Thoracic Oncology, Kanagawa Cancer Center Hospital, 2-3-2 Nakao, Asahi-ku, Yokohama 2418515, Japan

2 Department of Pathology, Kanagawa Cancer Center Hospital, 2-3-2 Nakao, Asahi-ku, Yokohama 2418515, Japan

3 Molecular Pathology and Genetics Division, Kanagawa Cancer Center Research Institute, 2-3-2 Nakao, Asahi-ku, Yokohama 2418515, Japan

4 Department of Medical Oncology and Cancer Center, Shiga University of Medical Science Hospital, Seta Tsukinowa-cho, Otsu 5202192, Japan

5 Respiratory Disease Center, Yokohama City University Medical Center, 4-57 Urafune-cho, Minami-ku, Yokohama 2320024, Japan

6 Department of Surgery, Yokohama City University Graduate School of Medicine, 3-9 Fukuura, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama 2360004, Japan

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BMC Cancer 2014, 14:610  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-610

Published: 25 August 2014



The rapid aging of the population in Japan has been accompanied by an increased rate of surgery for lung cancer among elderly patients. It is thus an urgent priority to map out a treatment strategy for elderly patients with primary lung cancer. Although surgical resection remains standard treatment for early stage non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), it is now essential to confirm the status of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene mutations when planning treatment strategies. Furthermore, several studies have reported that EGFR mutations are an independent prognostic marker in NSCLC. However, the relations between age group and the molecular and pathological characteristics of NSCLC remain unclear. We studied the status of EGFR mutations in elderly patients with NSCLC and examined the relations of EGFR mutations to clinicopathological factors and outcomes according to age group.


A total of 388 consecutive patients with NSCLC who underwent complete tumor resection in our hospital from 2006 through 2008 were studied retrospectively. Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue sections were used to isolate DNA from carcinoma lesions. Mutational analyses of EGFR gene exons 19, 20, and 21 and KRAS gene exons 12 and 13 were performed by loop-hybrid mobility shift assay, a highly sensitive polymerase chain reaction-based method.


EGFR mutations were detected in 185 (47.7%) and KRAS mutations were detected in 33 (8.5%) of the 388 patients. EGFR mutations were found in a significantly higher proportion of patients younger than 80 years (younger group; 178/359, 49.6%) than in patients 80 years or older (older group; 7/29, 24.1%) (P = 0.008). In contrast, KRAS mutations were more common in the older group (6/29, 20.7%) than in the younger group (27/359, 7.5%) (P = 0.014). The older group showed a trend toward a higher rate of 5-year overall survival among elderly patients with EGFR mutations (100%) than among those with wild-type EGFR (66.2%), but the difference was not significant.


Our results suggest that the EGFR status of patients with NSCLC differs between patients 80 years or older and those younger than 80 years. EGFR mutation status might be a prognostic marker in elderly patients with completely resected NSCLC.