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      Sorafenib in Advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma

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          Abstract

          No effective systemic therapy exists for patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma. A preliminary study suggested that sorafenib, an oral multikinase inhibitor of the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor, the platelet-derived growth factor receptor, and Raf may be effective in hepatocellular carcinoma. In this multicenter, phase 3, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, we randomly assigned 602 patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma who had not received previous systemic treatment to receive either sorafenib (at a dose of 400 mg twice daily) or placebo. Primary outcomes were overall survival and the time to symptomatic progression. Secondary outcomes included the time to radiologic progression and safety. At the second planned interim analysis, 321 deaths had occurred, and the study was stopped. Median overall survival was 10.7 months in the sorafenib group and 7.9 months in the placebo group (hazard ratio in the sorafenib group, 0.69; 95% confidence interval, 0.55 to 0.87; P<0.001). There was no significant difference between the two groups in the median time to symptomatic progression (4.1 months vs. 4.9 months, respectively, P=0.77). The median time to radiologic progression was 5.5 months in the sorafenib group and 2.8 months in the placebo group (P<0.001). Seven patients in the sorafenib group (2%) and two patients in the placebo group (1%) had a partial response; no patients had a complete response. Diarrhea, weight loss, hand-foot skin reaction, and hypophosphatemia were more frequent in the sorafenib group. In patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma, median survival and the time to radiologic progression were nearly 3 months longer for patients treated with sorafenib than for those given placebo. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00105443.) 2008 Massachusetts Medical Society

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          Most cited references 19

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          Management of hepatocellular carcinoma.

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            Rising incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma in the United States.

            Clinical observations have suggested that the number of cases of hepatocellular carcinoma has increased in the United States. We analyzed data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) data base to determine the age-adjusted incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma from 1976 to 1995, data from the U.S. vital-statistics data base to determine age-adjusted mortality rates from 1981 to 1995, and data from the Department of Veterans Affairs to determine age-adjusted rates of hospitalization for the disease from 1983 to 1997. The incidence of histologically proved hepatocellular carcinoma increased from 1.4 per 100,000 population (95 percent confidence interval, 1.3 to 1.4) for the period from 1976 to 1980 to 2.4 per 100,000 (95 percent confidence interval, 2.3 to 2.4) for the period from 1991 to 1995. Among black men, the incidence was 6.1 per 100,000 for the period from 1991 to 1995, and among white men, it was 2.8 per 100,000. There was a 41 percent increase in the mortality rate from primary liver cancer and a 46 percent increase in the proportion of hospitalizations attributable to this disease during the periods studied. The incidence increased significantly among younger persons (40 to 60 years old) during the period from 1991 to 1995 as compared with earlier periods. An increase in the number of cases of hepatocellular carcinoma has occurred in the United States over the past two decades. The age-specific incidence of this cancer has progressively shifted toward younger people.
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              Phase II study of sorafenib in patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma.

              This phase II study of sorafenib, an oral multikinase inhibitor that targets Raf kinase and receptor tyrosine kinases, assessed efficacy, toxicity, pharmacokinetics, and biomarkers in advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients. Patients with inoperable HCC, no prior systemic treatment, and Child-Pugh (CP) A or B, received continuous, oral sorafenib 400 mg bid in 4-week cycles. Tumor response was assessed every two cycles using modified WHO criteria. Sorafenib pharmacokinetics were measured in plasma samples. Biomarker analysis included phosphorylated extracellular signal regulated kinase (pERK) in pretreatment biopsies (immunohistochemistry) and blood-cell RNA expression patterns in selected patients. Of 137 patients treated (male, 71%; median age, 69 years), 72% had CP A, and 28% had CP B. On the basis of independent assessment, three (2.2%) patients achieved a partial response, eight (5.8%) had a minor response, and 46 (33.6%) had stable disease for at least 16 weeks. Investigator-assessed median time to progression (TTP) was 4.2 months, and median overall survival was 9.2 months. Grade 3/4 drug-related toxicities included fatigue (9.5%), diarrhea (8.0%), and hand-foot skin reaction (5.1%). There were no significant pharmacokinetic differences between CP A and B patients. Pretreatment tumor pERK levels correlated with TTP. A panel of 18 expressed genes was identified that distinguished "nonprogressors" from "progressors" with an estimated 100% accuracy. Although single-agent sorafenib has modest efficacy in HCC, the manageable toxicity and mechanisms of action support a role for combination regimens with other anticancer agents.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                New England Journal of Medicine
                N Engl J Med
                Massachusetts Medical Society
                0028-4793
                1533-4406
                July 24 2008
                July 24 2008
                : 359
                : 4
                : 378-390
                Article
                10.1056/NEJMoa0708857
                18650514
                © 2008
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