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Evaluating the safety and efficacy of axitinib in the treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma

Authors Gunnarsson O, Pfanzelter N, Cohen R, Keefe S

Received 12 September 2014

Accepted for publication 12 December 2014

Published 11 February 2015 Volume 2015:7 Pages 65—73

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CMAR.S74202

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Kenan Onel

Orvar Gunnarsson,1 Nicklas R Pfanzelter,2 Roger B Cohen,1 Stephen M Keefe1

1Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, 2Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL, USA

Abstract: Axitinib is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor, platelet-derived growth factor receptor-α, and c-kit. Phase I studies demonstrated 5 mg twice daily as the recommended starting dose with notable effects seen in renal cell carcinoma, an observation confirmed in Phase II trials. The trial of comparative effectivess of axitinib versus sorafenib in advanced renal cell carcinoma (AXIS) was an international randomized Phase III study designed for registration purposes, compared axitinib to sunitinib. This trial randomized 723 patients with metastatic kidney cancer to axitinib or sunitinib in the second-line setting and demonstrated a median progression-free survival of 6.7 months for axitinib versus 4.7 months for sorafenib (P<0.0001). Clinical benefit was detected regardless of prior therapy, but no overall survival benefit has been observed. Axitinib is well tolerated without a significant effect on quality of life. The most common grade 3 toxicities are hypertension (16%), diarrhea (11%), and fatigue (11%), with other notable side effects being anorexia, nausea, hand–foot syndrome, and rash. Patients who developed diastolic blood pressure >90 mmHg were noted to have significantly longer median overall survival and overall response rates when compared to normotensive patients. Therefore, the manufacturer recommends escalating the twice-daily dose to 7 mg and 10 mg, as tolerated, if there is no significant increase in blood pressure on treatment. Currently, axitinib is approved for use in the second-line setting for patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma. Research is ongoing in other disease settings.

Keywords: axitinib, renal cell carcinoma, side effects, drug safety


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