Comparison of qPCR to IHC and FISH for Detection of ALK Fusion Mutations in FFPE Tissue From NSCLC Patients

Official Title

A Study to Compare the Performance of a qPCR-based Assay to Immunohistochemistry (IHC) and Fluorescence in Situ Hybridization (FISH) in the Detection of Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase (ALK) Fusion Mutations in Formalin Fixed Paraffin-embedded (FFPE) Tissue From Non-small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) Patients.


The anaplastic lymphoma kinase gene(ALK) is mutated approximately 5% of non-small cell lung cancers. Testing for this gene is important because there are drugs known as ALK inhibitors that have been shown to significantly delay the progression of ALK-mutated lung cancers. There are a number of ways to test for the presence of the ALK gene in lung cancer biopsy tissue. One method involves making slides and staining them to detect the ALK protein. This is called immunohistochemistry. Another method called fluorescence in situ hybridization(FISH)is used to detect rearrangements of the ALK gene associated with lung cancer. Although both these tests are widely used to test for ALK gene abnormalities, the techniques may not always find the ALK gene mutation because they are not sensitive enough or not enough cancer cells are present in the lung biopsy. This study is being performed to determine if a technique called quantitation polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) is as accurate or better at finding the ALK gene mutation in lung cancer biopsy tissue.

Trial Description

Primary Outcome:

  • To determine the true number of ALK positives and negatives of a qPCR assay for the detection in FFPE lung cancer biopsy specimens of ALK status in comparison with IHC and FISH ALK detection technologies.
Secondary Outcome:
  • The analysis of plasma and serum collected from those patients with ALK-positive NSCLC to assess the feasibility for the use of non-invasive sampling in the diagnosis and disease monitoring of lung cancer.

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Canadian Cancer Society

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