ALK Fusions in a Wide Variety of Tumor Types Respond to Anti‐ALK Targeted Therapy

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AbstractBackground.Genomic fusions of the anaplastic lymphoma kinase gene (ALK) are a well‐established therapy target in non‐small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). From a survey of 114,200 clinical cases, we determined the prevalence of ALK rearrangements (rALK) in non‐NSCLC tumors and report their responsiveness to therapies targeting ALK.Materials and Methods.Comprehensive genomic profiling of 114,200 relapsed and metastatic malignancies, including both solid tumors and hematolymphoid cancers, was performed using a hybrid‐capture, adaptor ligation‐based next‐generation sequencing assay.Results.Of 114,200 clinical samples, 21,522 (18.8%) were NSCLC and 92,678 (81.2%) were other tumor types. Of the 876 (0.8%) cases with ALK fusions (fALK) or rALK, 675 (77.1%) were NSCLC and 201 (22.9%) were other tumor types. ALK fusions were significantly more frequent in NSCLC (3.1%) than non‐NSCLC (0.2%; p < .0001). Patients with non‐NSCLC tumors harboring fALK were significantly younger (p < .0001) and more often female (p < .0001) than patients with fALK‐positive NSCLC. EML4 was more often the fusion partner in NSCLC (83.5%) versus non‐NSCLC tumors (30.9%; p < .0001).Conclusion.ALK rearrangements can be identified in a wide variety of epithelial and mesenchymal malignancies beyond NSCLC. Anti‐ALK therapies can be effective in non‐NSCLC tumors driven by fALK, and further study of therapies targeting ALK in clinical trials involving a wider variety of cancer types appears warranted.Implications for Practice.Rearrangements involving the ALK gene have been detected in dozens of cancer types using next‐generation sequencing. Patients whose tumors harbor ALK rearrangements or fusions respond to treatment with crizotinib and alectinib, including tumors not normally associated with ALK mutations, such as non‐Langerhans cell histiocytosis or renal cell carcinoma. Comprehensive genomic profiling using next‐generation sequencing can detect targetable ALK fusions irrespective of tumor type or fusions partner.

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