Sorafenib for treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma: A systematic review

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Background Sorafenib, a drug that inhibits Raf serine/threonine kinases mediating cell proliferation and receptor tyrosine kinases involved in angiogenesis, is approved for treatment of advanced hepatocellular carcinoma. Aims To explore the efficacy and safety of sorafenib for treating advanced HCC, and to identify clinical factors that might affect that efficacy and safety. Methods We conducted a systematic review using the PRISMA guidelines to identify prospective studies on sorafenib used alone or in combination with systemic and/or loco regional anti-tumor therapy for treating advanced HCC. Results We identified 21 prospective trials of sorafenib treatment alone (7) or combined with other treatment (14). In randomized, placebo-controlled trials, sorafenib prolonged overall survival by 2.3-2.8 months, extended the time to tumor progression by 1.4-2.7 months, and increased disease control by 11-19 %. OS and DCRs were lowest for studies with the highest percentage of hepatitis B patients. Most studies reported major side effects (diarrhea, fatigue, and hand-foot syndrome) in \15 % of patients, with greater incidence in patients with advanced cirrhosis and those treated with sorafenib in combination with 5-FU drugs. Conclusions Treatment with sorafenib results in statistically significant, but clinically modest, improvements in OS, TTP, and DCR. For patients with hepatitis B, response seems to be poorer than for those with hepatitis C. The frequency of hand-foot syndrome seems to be higher when sorafenib is used in advanced cirrhosis and is combined with 5-FU drugs. It is not clear that sorafenib combined with other treatments is more effective than sorafenib alone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1122-1129
Number of pages8
JournalDigestive Diseases and Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2012


  • Cirrhosis
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Sorafenib
  • Systematic review
  • Transarterial chemoembolization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Gastroenterology


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