In early-stage, EGFR mutation–positive (EGFR-M+) non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), surgery remains the primary treatment, without personalized adjuvant treatments. We aimed to identify risk factors for recurrence-free survival (RFS) to suggest personalized adjuvant strategies in resected early-stage EGFR-M+ NSCLC.

Experimental Design:

From January 2008 to August 2020, a total of 2,340 patients with pathologic stage (pStage) IB–IIIA, non-squamous NSCLC underwent curative surgery. To identify clinicopathologic risk factors, 1,181 patients with pStage IB–IIIA, common EGFR-M+ NSCLC who underwent surgical resection were analyzed. To identify molecular risk factors, comprehensive genomic analysis was conducted in 56 patients with matched case–controls (pStage II and IIIA and type of EGFR mutation).


Median follow-up duration was 38.8 months (0.5–156.2). Among 1,181 patients, pStage IB, II, and IIIA comprised 577 (48.9%), 331 (28.0%), and 273 (23.1%) subjects, respectively. Median RFS was 73.5 months [95% confidence interval (CI), 62.1–84.9], 48.7 months (95% CI, 41.2–56.3), and 22.7 months (95% CI, 19.4–26.0) for pStage IB, II, and IIIA, respectively (P < 0.001). In multivariate analysis of clinicopathologic risk factors, pStage, micropapillary subtype, vascular invasion, and pleural invasion, and pathologic classification by cell of origin (type II pneumocyte-like tumor cell vs. bronchial surface epithelial cell–like tumor cell) were associated with RFS. As molecular risk factors, the non-terminal respiratory unit (non-TRU) of the RNA subtype (HR, 3.49; 95% CI, 1.72–7.09; P < 0.01) and TP53 mutation (HR, 2.50; 95% CI, 1.24–5.04; P = 0.01) were associated with poor RFS independent of pStage II or IIIA. Among the patients with recurrence, progression-free survival of EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) in those with the Apolipoprotein B mRNA Editing Catalytic Polypeptide-like (APOBEC) mutation signature was inferior compared with that of patients without this signature (8.6 vs. 28.8 months; HR, 4.16; 95% CI, 1.28–13.46; P = 0.02).


The low-risk group with TRU subtype and TP53 wild-type without clinicopathologic risk factors might not need adjuvant EGFR-TKIs. In the high-risk group, with non-TRU subtype and/or TP 53 mutation, or clinicopathologic risk factors, a novel adjuvant strategy of EGFR-TKI with others, e.g., chemotherapy or antiangiogenic agents needs to be investigated. Given the poor outcome to EGFR-TKIs after recurrence in patients with the APOBEC mutation signature, an alternative adjuvant strategy might be needed.

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