Case Report: ALK rearranged locally advanced lung adenocarcinoma showing inconsistent radiographic findings and pathological responses during neoadjuvant alectinib therapy
Alectinib has been approved as first-line treatment for anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-positive non-small cell lung carcinoma. Oncologists are also exploring the possibility of applying alectinib in the perioperative period. Here, we present a patient with locally advanced lung adenocarcinoma associated with EML4 - ALK fusion mutation, who received neoadjuvant chemotherapy and alectinib treatment, and then underwent thoracoscopic left lower lung lobectomy. The patient initially received eight chemotherapy cycles and achieved partial remission. After eight cycles of chemotherapy, the lymph nodes in the hilar region again enlarged. The patient was then switched to 4 months of alectinib therapy, but no significant lesion changes were detected on imaging during this period. This raised the question of whether the patient developed alectinib resistance. The pathological findings of the postoperative lung lobe specimens indicated extensive necrosis in the tumor area with no residual tumor cells and massive chronic inflammatory cell infiltration around the tumor area, confirming inconsistency between the imaging findings and pathological results. Multi-point tumor specimen sampling was postoperatively performed. Tumor immune-related gene expression was detected in the sample with the help of the PanCancer IO360™ panel based on the nCounter platform. This is a rare case of a patient who was treated with neoadjuvant alectinib and had paradoxical radiographic findings and pathological responses. The possibility that intratumoral immune heterogeneity was responsible for this phenomenon has been discussed. Based on the findings, it is argued that the pathological response should be an important basis for assessing the effectiveness of neoadjuvant alectinib therapy.