Conference Coverage

New drugs provide new options in HCC



– Recent approvals and investigations of targeted and immune treatments for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are encouraging, Nikolaos Pyrsopoulos, MD, MBA, said at Digestive Diseases: New Advances, jointly provided by Rutgers and Global Academy for Medical Education.

“I am excited, because a few years ago, there was only one [Food and Drug Administration] approved medication,” Dr. Pyrsopoulos, division director for gastroenterology and hepatology at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark, said in an interview. “We are on the cusp where new compounds not only are being tested, but they are being approved.”

In one of the most recent developments, the multikinase inhibitor cabozantinib significantly improved the primary endpoint of overall survival versus placebo in HCC patients in the randomized phase 3 CELESTIAL trial.

Median overall survival in CELESTIAL was 10.2 months for cabozantinib versus 8.0 for placebo (P = .0049), according to the published report, and investigators also reported significant improvements in progression-free survival and response versus placebo.

“It is very encouraging,” Dr. Pyrsopoulos said of the cabozantinib results in a presentation on advances in HCC that he gave at the conference.

For years, the only FDA-approved treatment for advanced HCC was sorafenib. In the randomized phase 3 SHARP trial, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2008, patients receiving the multikinase inhibitor had a median survival of 10.7 months, versus 7.9 months for placebo (P less than .001).

In April 2017, the FDA approved regorafenib for patients with HCC previously treated with sorafenib. In the randomized phase 3 RESORCE trial, published in The Lancet in 2017, median overall survival was 10.6 months for regorafenib-treated patients versus 7.8 months in the placebo group. Investigators reported that regorafenib improved overall survival with a hazard ratio of 0.63 (P less than .0001).


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