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Early α-fetoprotein response predicts survival in patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma treated with sorafenib

Authors Lee S, Kim BK, Kim SU, Park JY, Kim DY, Ahn SH, Han K

Received 16 December 2014

Accepted for publication 10 February 2015

Published 28 April 2015 Volume 2015:2 Pages 39—47


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 5

Editor who approved publication: Dr Ahmed Kaseb

Sangheun Lee,1,* Beom Kyung Kim,2–5,* Seung Up Kim,2–5 Jun Yong Park,2–5 Do Young Kim,2–5 Sang Hoon Ahn,2–6 Kwang-Hyub Han2–6

1Department of Internal Medicine, International St Mary’s Hospital, Catholic Kwandong University, Incheon Metropolitan City, Republic of Korea; 2Department of Internal Medicine, 3Institute of Gastroenterology, 4Liver Cancer Special Clinic, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea; 5Liver Cirrhosis Clinical Research Center, Seoul, Republic of Korea; 6Brain Korea 21 Project for Medical Science, Seoul, Republic of Korea. 
*These authors contributed equally to this work

Background: It is not clear whether tumor marker responses can predict survival during sorafenib treatment in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We investigated whether the α-fetoprotein (AFP) response is associated with survival in patients with advanced HCC treated with sorafenib.
Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the records of 126 patients with advanced HCC treated with sorafenib between 2007 and 2012. An AFP response was defined as >20% decrease from baseline. At 6–8 weeks after commencing sorafenib, AFP and radiological responses were assessed by modified Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors.
Results: The median overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) were 6.2 and 3.5 months, respectively. Of the study population, a partial response (PR) was identified in 5 patients (4.0%), stable disease (SD) in 65 patients (51.6%), and progressive disease (PD) in 57 patients (44.4%), respectively. AFP non-response was an independent prognostic factor for poor OS (median 10.9 months for AFP response vs 5.2 months for AFP non-response), together with Child-Pugh B, tumor diameter ≥10 cm, and portal vein invasion (all P<0.05), and PFS (median 5.3 months for AFP response vs 2.9 months for AFP non-response), together with tumor diameter ≥10 cm and portal vein invasion (all P<0.05). SD or PR was more frequently found in AFP responders than in non-responders (72.1% vs 47.0%, respectively; P=0.007). In a sub-group with SD, OS (median 12.7 vs 5.8 months, respectively) and PFS (median 9.1 vs 3.7 months, respectively) were significantly longer in AFP responders than in non-responders (all P<0.05).
Conclusion: Early AFP response may be useful for predicting survival in patients with advanced HCC treated with sorafenib.

Keywords: α-fetoprotein, hepatocellular carcinoma, response, prognosis, treatment outcome, sorafenib

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