Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BACKGROUND: Clinical trials of agents targeting epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) in esophageal carcinoma (EC) have indicated a minority subgroup responsive to anti-EGFR therapies. Other investigations suggest increases in EGFR copy number are associated with poor prognosis in EC, but have used a variety of different techniques and tested numbers remain small. A validated assay for EGFR copy number in EC is needed, to allow investigation of EGFR copy number gain as a predictive biomarker for the anti-EGFR responsive subgroup of patients. We developed a scoring system in EC based upon established systems for EGFR fluorescence in-situ hybridisation (FISH) in lung cancer, and applied this in a series of 160 UK patients with advanced EC. RESULTS: Dual colour FISH on formalin fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) biopsies were scored independently by two operators as: disomy (score = 1), low trisomy (score = 2), high trisomy (score = 3), low polysomy (score = 4), high polysomy (score = 5) and amplification (score = 6). EGFR FISH positive cases (scores 5 and 6) were found in 32/160 (20 %) tumours, with high polysomy in 22 (13.8 %) and amplification in 10 (6.3 %). Two independent operator scores for FISH positivity were 100 % concordant. EGFR FISH positive status was not associated with clinic-pathological features. EGFR amplification was associated with worse survival (HR = 2.64, 95 % CI 1.04 to 6.71, p = 0.03). CONCLUSION: Our FISH scoring system for EGFR in advanced EC identifies a significant subgroup (20.0 %) of FISH positive patients. EGFR amplification, which is found in 6.3 %, is associated with poor survival. It is not known if there is a role for EGFR targeted treatment in this subgroup of patients, however we are now utilising this EGFR FISH assay and scoring system in biopsies from clinical trials utilising anti-EGFR targeted therapies.

Original publication




Journal article


Mol cytogenet

Publication Date





EGFR Copy Number, Esophageal Carcinoma, Esophago-gastric junctional carcinoma