Background & Aims: Transarterial chemoembolization with doxorubicin-eluting beads (DC Bead®; DEB-TACE) is effective in patients with Barcelona clinic liver cancer stage B hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The multikinase inhibitor sorafenib enhances overall survival (OS) and time-to-tumor progression (TTP) in patients with advanced HCC. This exploratory phase II trial tested the efficacy and safety of DEB-TACE plus sorafenib in patients with intermediate stage HCC. Methods: Patients with intermediate stage multinodular HCC without macrovascular invasion (MVI) or extrahepatic spread (EHS) were randomized 1:1 to DEB-TACE (150. mg doxorubicin) plus sorafenib 400. mg twice daily or placebo. The primary endpoint was TTP by blinded central review. Secondary endpoints included time to MVI/EHS, OS, overall response rate (ORR) using modified response evaluation criteria in solid tumors, disease control rate (DCR), time to unTACEable progression (TTUP), and safety. Results: Of 307 patients randomized, 154 received sorafenib and 153 received placebo. Median TTP for subjects receiving sorafenib plus DEB-TACE or placebo plus DEB-TACE was similar (169 vs. 166. days, respectively; hazard ratio (HR) 0.797, p = 0.072). Median time to MVI/EHS (HR 0.621, p = 0.076) and OS (HR 0.898, p = 0.29) had not been reached. The ORRs for patients in the sorafenib and placebo groups with post-baseline scans were 55.9% and 41.3%, respectively, and the DCRs were 89.2% and 76.1%, respectively. TTUP was lower with sorafenib than with placebo (HR 1.586; 95% confidence intervals, 1.200-2.096; median 95 vs. 224. days). No unexpected adverse events related to sorafenib were observed. Conclusion: Sorafenib plus DEB-TACE was technically feasible, but the combination did not improve TTP in a clinically meaningful manner compared with DEB-TACE alone.
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