Tissue or blood: which is more suitable for detection of EGFR mutations in non-small cell lung cancer?


ABSTRACT Background

Many studies have evaluated the accuracy of EGFR mutation status in blood against that in tumor tissues as the reference. We conducted this systematic review and meta-analysis to assess whether blood can be used as a substitute for tumor tissue in detecting EGFR mutations.


Investigations that provided data on EGFR mutation status in blood were searched in the databases of Medline, Embase, Ovid Technologies and Web of Science. The detect efficiency of EGFR mutations in paired blood and tissues was compared using a random-effects model of meta-analysis. Pooled sensitivity and specificity and diagnostic accuracy were calculated by receiver operating characteristic curve.


A total of 19 studies with 2,922 individuals were involved in this meta-analysis. The pooled results showed the positive detection rate of EGFR mutations in lung cancer tissues was remarkably higher than that of paired blood samples (odds ratio [OR] = 1.47, p<0.001). The pooled sensitivity and specificity of blood were 0.65 and 0.91, respectively, and the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve was 0.89.


Although blood had a better specificity for detecting EGFR mutations, the absence of blood positivity should not necessarily be construed as confirmed negativity. Patients with negative results for blood should decidedly undergo further biopsies to ascertain EGFR mutations.

Post author correction




Rong Biaoxue, Yang Shuanying

Article History


Financial support: No grants or funding have been received for this study.
Conflict of interest: None.

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  • Department of Respiratory Medicine, The First Affiliated Hospital of Xi’an Medical University, Xi’an - China
  • Department of Respiratory Medicine, Second Affiliated Hospital, Xi’an Jiaotong University, Xi’an - China

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