Background and aim
An optimal sequential anti-hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) agent that can be used after failed lenvatinib treatment has not been established. Here, we compared the outcomes of sorafenib and nivolumab as second-line agents after failed lenvatinib treatment in patients with advanced HCC.
Patients with advanced HCC who had received sorafenib or nivolumab as second-line agents after failed lenvatinib treatment were recruited from two Korean tertiary institutions between November 2018 and June 2020.
The median age of the 60 participants (52 treated with sorafenib and eight treated with nivolumab) at baseline was 56.8 years. The demographic, laboratory and tumor variables, as well as lenvatinib treatment duration, were similar between the two groups. The median durations of sorafenib and nivolumab treatment were 1.2 and 2.6 months, respectively (P = 0.164). Twenty-four (40.0%) patients died during the follow-up period (median, 15.8 months). The median overall survival (OS) of the study population was 5.8 months. The median OS of patients treated with sorafenib was significantly longer than the median OS of patients treated with nivolumab (8.7 vs. 3.0 months; P = 0.046). Sorafenib treatment (vs. nivolumab) was independently associated with a lower risk of mortality (hazard ratio = 0.194; 95% confidence interval, 0.053–0.708; P = 0.013). Worse Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status, larger maximal tumor size, lymph node metastases and higher total bilirubin levels were independently associated with increased mortality risk (all P < 0.05).
Lenvatinib-sorafenib sequential treatment resulted in significantly better survival did than lenvatinib-nivolumab sequential treatment in patients with advanced HCC. Larger studies are needed to validate our results.