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  • Author: Aatur D. Singhi x
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Ahmad Hamad, Aatur D. Singhi, Nathan Bahary, Kevin McGrath, Rula Amarin, Herbert J. Zeh and Amer H. Zureikat

Overexpression of HER2 protein and amplification of the ERBB2 gene has been observed in various adenocarcinomas, providing a therapeutic target that can be used to extend the survival of a select cohort of patients. Anti-HER2 therapy has been successfully applied to gastric and colorectal cancers, but its use and potential benefit in small intestinal carcinomas is not well characterized. We applied anti-HER2 therapy to an ERBB2-amplified advanced duodenal adenocarcinoma, adding trastuzumab to FOLFOX in the neoadjuvant setting. A 61-year-old woman with an advanced duodenal cancer harboring an ERBB2 amplification received preoperative trastuzumab and FOLFOX. Restaging revealed significant tumor downstaging with no metastasis. After multidisciplinary assessment, she underwent pancreaticoduodenectomy. Final pathologic analysis revealed no residual invasive adenocarcinoma, consistent with a complete neoadjuvant treatment response. This case report emphasizes the need for further molecular characterization of small bowel cancers; genetic alterations may provide therapeutic targets to improve the prognosis of these rare and aggressive malignancies.

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Aatur D. Singhi, Siraj M. Ali, Jill Lacy, Andrew Hendifar, Khanh Nguyen, Jamie Koo, Jon H. Chung, Joel Greenbowe, Jeffrey S. Ross, Marina N. Nikiforova, Herbert J. Zeh, Inderpal S. Sarkaria, Anil Dasyam and Nathan Bahary

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the most lethal cancers, with a 5-year survival of 8%. Current therapeutic regimens are largely ineffective and underscore the need for novel treatment strategies. Chromosomal rearrangements involving the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene have been identified in several neoplasms. In addition, ALK protein inhibitors have proven efficacy in patients with ALK-rearranged tumors. However, ALK translocations in PDAC have not been described. Through comprehensive genomic profiling of 3,170 PDACs, we identified 5 cases (0.16%) that harbored an ALK fusion gene: an exon 6 EML4–exon 20 ALK translocation (n=3), an exon 13 EML4–exon 20 ALK translocation (n=1), and an exon 3 STRN–exon 20 ALK translocation (n=1). Among the most prevalent PDAC-related genes, activating KRAS mutations were absent in all 5 cases, who were <50 years of age. Among patients aged <50 years in our study cohort, ALK translocations constituted 1.3% of PDACs. Four of 5 patients were treated with an ALK inhibitor, and 3 of these patients demonstrated stable disease, radiographic response, and/or normalization of serum CA 19-9. Although rare, ALK fusions occur in PDAC, and screening for ALK rearrangements should be considered in young patients with PDAC.