Sorafenib is a molecular-targeting agent showing improved overall survival (OS) for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Although tumor dormancy, characterized by stable tumor status or stable disease (SD) without tumor regression, is a unique feature of sorafenib treatment, the contribution of SD to OS remains debatable. This study aimed to clarify the correlation between SD periods and OS in patients with HCC treated with sorafenib.
From May 2009 to January 2013, 269 patients with advanced-stage HCC were treated with sorafenib at the Kinki University Hospital. The antitumor response of sorafenib was evaluated in 158 patients using the modified Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors, and patients with SD were divided into two subgroups according to the median duration of SD: short SD (<3 months) and long SD (≥3 months). The relationship between the duration of SD and OS was analyzed among patients with complete (CR) and partial response (PR), and long and short SD using the Kaplan-Meier method.
The median OS was 5.7 months in the short SD, 20.8 months in the long SD and 17.9 months in the CR + PR group. Although the duration of OS was significantly longer in the long SD group than the short SD group, no difference in OS was detected between the patients with CR + PR and patients with long SD. The impact of long SD on OS could be as strong as that of CR + PR.
Achievement of long SD is one of the important goals for improving survival in patients with HCC treated with sorafenib.