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Contemp Clin Trials. 2010 Jan;31(1):55-61. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2009.08.002. Epub 2009 Sep 6.

Geographic difference in survival outcome for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma: implications on future clinical trial design.

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  • 1Department of Oncology, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taiwan.


In clinical trials of systemic therapy for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), Asian trials almost always reported poorer survival than non-Asian trials. This study sought to identify contributory factors for this geographic difference. A systematic review was done on randomized trials for unresectable HCC that used systemic therapy as an experimental arm and placebo or supportive care as control. Meta-analysis was performed with the consideration of fixed and random effects. Then, meta-regression was performed to identify predictors of patient survival in the control arm and the treatment effects (improvement in median survival). Fourteen trials (6 Asians, 8 non-Asians) were eligible for meta-analysis. The median survival of patients in the control arm, which indicated natural history of advanced HCC patients, was 3.57+/-1.88 months in Asian trials and 5.96+/-1.46 months in non-Asian trials (p=0.02). Independent predictors of better survival included non-Asian trials (p=0.0007), higher percentage of Child A cirrhosis (p=0.01) and hepatitis B (HBV)-related HCC (p=0.02). Sub-group analysis suggested that Asian trials tended to enroll patients with more advanced diseases. Independent predictors of better treatment effect included non-Asian trials, higher percentage of extra-hepatic metastasis, HBV-related HCC, and poorer trial quality. The quantitative estimation of the geographic difference can help design of future clinical trials of advanced HCC.

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