non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)-associated malignant pleural effusions (MPE) are sometimes the only available specimens for molecular analysis.
this study evaluates diagnostic yield of NSCLC-associated MPE, its adequacy for immunohistochemistry (IHC) and the potential influence of MPE volume/cellularity on the analytic sensitivity of our assays.
molecular results of 50 NSCLC-associated MPE cases during a 5-year period were evaluated. Molecular profiling was performed on cellblocks and consisted of fluorescent in-situ hybridization (FISH) for ALK gene rearrangements and the following sequencing platforms: Sanger sequencing (for EGFR) and high-throughput pyrosequencing (for KRAS and BRAF) during the first 4 years of the study period, and targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS) performed thereafter.
50 NSCLC-associated MPE cases were identified where molecular testing was requested. Of these, 17 cases were excluded; 14 cases (28%) due to inadequate tumor cellularity and 3 cases due to unavailability of the slides to review. 27/50 MPE cases (54%) underwent at least EGFR and KRAS sequencing and FISH for ALK rearrangement. Of the 27 cases with molecular testing results available, a genetic abnormality was detected in 16 cases (59%). The most common genetic aberrations identified involved EGFR (9) and KRAS (7). Six cases had ALK FISH only, of which one showed rearrangement. MPE volume was not associated with overall cellularity or tumor cellularity (P=0.360).
molecular profiling of MPE is a viable alternative to testing solid tissue in NSCLC. This study shows successful detection of genetic aberrations in 59% of samples with minimal risk of false negative.