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J Gastrointest Cancer. 2018 Jun;49(2):107-115. doi: 10.1007/s12029-018-0065-8.

Systemic Treatment of Patients with Advanced, Unresectable Hepatocellular Carcinoma: Emergence of Therapies.

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University of Kansas School of Medicine, Kansas City, KS, USA.
Univesity of Kansas Cancer Center, 2330 Shawnee Mission Pkwy, Suite 210, Westwood, KS, 66205, USA.
Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA.


To date, sorafenib, a multiple tyrosine kinase inhibitor, is the only systemic agent approved by the FDA in the first-line treatment of patients with unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Several other tyrosine kinase-inhibiting agents have been investigated in the first-line setting, either alone (sunitinib, brivanib, linifanib, and lenvatinib) or in combination with sorafenib (erlotinib and doxorubicin) in phase 3 trials. However, none of these studies demonstrated an improvement in survival over sorafenib. Many agents have also been tested in patients with HCC whose disease has progressed on sorafenib, but regorafenib is the only one to have demonstrated efficacy in this setting in a randomized, phase 3 trial. There were no clear survival benefits shown with everolimus, brivanib, or ramucirumab as second-line therapy. Nivolumab has also shown promising efficacy in patients with HCC who progressed on sorafenib, which was recently granted approval by the FDA, although larger confirmative trials may be considered. The treatment landscape for patients with advanced unresectable hepatocellular tumors has remained fairly static for the past 10 years, with multiple failed trials yield little change in the way these patients might be treated. However, recent findings for regorafenib, lenvatinib, and nivolumab have led to the most significant changes in the treatment paradigm in years.


Hepatocellular carcinoma; Lenvatinib; Nivolumab; Regorafenib; Sorafenib

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