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Br J Cancer. 2003 Jul 21;89(2):252-7.

A phase II study of the vitamin D analogue Seocalcitol in patients with inoperable hepatocellular carcinoma.

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Department of Clinical Pharmacology, Rigshospitalet, Denmark [2] 2Department of Hepatology, Rigshospitalet, Denmark.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a common malignant tumour, which has a poor prognosis. Surgical resection can be curative but most patients are inoperable and most chemotherapy agents have minimal activity in this disease. Seocalcitol, a vitamin D analogue, induces differentiation and inhibits growth in cancer cell lines and in vivo. The vitamin D receptor is expressed in hepatocytes and more abundantly in HCC cells. In total, 56 patients with inoperable advanced HCC were included in an uncontrolled study of oral Seocalcitol treatment for up to 1 year (with possible extension for responders). The dose was titrated according to serum calcium levels. The treatment effect was evaluated by regular CT scans. Out of 33 patients evaluable for tumour response, two had complete response (CR), 12 stable disease and 19 progressive disease. The CRs appeared after 6 and 24 months of treatment, and lasted for 29 and at least 36 months (patient still in remission when data censored). Seocalcitol was well tolerated; the most frequent toxicity was hypercalcaemia and related symptoms. Most patients tolerated a daily dose of 10 micro g of Seocalcitol. This is the first study showing activity, by reduction in tumour dimensions, of a differentiating agent in patients with an advanced bulky, solid tumour. Seocalcitol may have an effect in the treatment of HCC, especially in early disease when a prolonged treatment can be instituted. The survival benefit with or without tumour response should be determined in controlled studies.

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