Sorafenib in advanced hepatocellular carcinoma: current status and future perspectives
Chih-Hung Hsu,1,4 Ying-Chun Shen,1,2 Yu-Yun Shao,1,4 Chiun Hsu,1,4 Ann-Lii Cheng,1,3,4
1Department of Oncology, 2Department of Medical Research, 3Department of Internal Medicine, National Taiwan University Hospital, 4Graduate Institute of Oncology, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan
Abstract: The approval of sorafenib, a multikinase inhibitor targeting primarily Raf kinase and the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor, in 2007 for treating advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has generated considerable enthusiasm in drug development for this difficult-to-treat disease. However, because several randomized Phase III studies testing new multikinase inhibitors failed, sorafenib remains the standard of first-line systemic therapy for patients with advanced HCC. Field practice studies worldwide have suggested that in daily practice, physicians are adopting either a preemptive dose modification or a ramp-up strategy to improve the compliance of their patients. In addition, accumulating data have suggested that patients with Child–Pugh class B liver function can tolerate sorafenib as well as patients with Child–Pugh class A liver function, although the actual benefit of sorafenib in patients with Child–Pugh class B liver function has yet to be confirmed. Whether sorafenib can be used as an adjunctive therapy to improve the outcomes of intermediate-stage HCC patients treated with transcatheter arterial chemoembolization or early-stage HCC patients after curative therapies is being investigated in several ongoing randomized Phase III studies. An increasing number of studies have reported that sorafenib exerts "off-target" effects, including the modulation of signaling pathways other than Raf/MEK/ERK pathway, nonapoptotic cell death mechanisms, and even immune modulation. Finally, although sorafenib in combination with chemotherapy or other targeted therapies has the potential to improve therapeutic efficacy in treating HCC, it also increases toxicity. Additional clinical studies are warranted to determine useful sorafenib-based combinations for the treatment of advanced HCC.
Keywords: HCC, multikinase inhibitor, advanced stage, sorafenib
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