The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has endorsed a number of tests to help doctors better target treatment for patients with the most common form of lung cancer.

The cost watchdog has recommended a package of tests and test strategies which it has deemed both clinically and cost effective in determining whether patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) carry a particular genetic mutation.

This mutation can produce an enzyme - epidermal growth factor receptor-tyrosine kinase (EGFR-TK) - involved in tumour growth that causes cells to grow more quickly. 

Treatment outcomes for patients with this type of lung cancer can be improved if doctors are able determine whether their tumour carries this mutation, to ensure that the appropriate chemotherapy is given.

Patients whose tumours carry the EGFR mutation given an EGFR-TK inhibitor gain more benefit than from standard chemotherapy treatment, while patients without the EGFR mutation do not respond as well if they are given these drugs instead of standard chemotherapy.

"It is important, therefore, to ensure high accuracy of testing, particularly to minimise the chances of incorrect treatment as a result of a false-positive or false-negative test results, in order to improve outcomes for patients with lung cancer," said Professor Carole Longson, NICE Health Technology Evaluation Centre Director.

NICE's evaluation has identified the tests and test strategies for EGFR-TK mutation testing in adults with previously untreated, locally advanced or metastatic NSCLC that should be used to inform first-line treatment decisions, which include Roche Molecular Systems' cobas EGFR Mutation Test and Qiagen's therascreen EGFR RGQ PCR Kit.