Source Yang-Yuan Chen, Department of Gastroenterology, China Medical University Hospital, China Medical University, Taichung, 40000 Taiwan, China.
AIM: To evaluate the efficacy of thalidomide in combination with other therapies to treat patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
METHODS: We performed a retrospective analysis of all patients with HCC who were treated with thalidomide for at least two months. The medical records of patients with HCC who were treated at our institution between April 2003 and March 2008 were reviewed. Image studies performed before and after treatment, tumor response, overall survival, and the decrease in α-fetoprotein (AFP) levels were evaluated.
RESULTS: A total of 53 patients with HCC received either 100 or 200 mg/d of thalidomide. The patient population consisted of 9 women and 44 men with a median age of 61 years. Thirty patients (56.6%) were classified as Child-Pugh A, and 12 patients (22.6%) were classified as Child-Pugh B. Twenty-six patients had portal vein thrombosis (49.1%), and 25 patients had extrahepatic metastasis (47.1%). The median duration of thalidomide treatment was 6.0 mo. Six of the 53 patients achieved a confirmed response (11.3%), one achieved a complete response (1.9%) and 5 achieved a partial response (9.4%). The disease control rate (CR + PR + SD) was 28.3% (95% CI: 17.8-42.4), and the median overall survival rate was 10.5 mo. The 1- and 2-year survival rates were 45% and 20%, respectively. Only one complete response patient showed an improved overall survival rate of 66.8 mo. Sixteen patients (30.2%) showed more than a 50% decrease in their serum AFP levels from baseline, indicating a better response rate (31.3%), disease control rate (43.8%), and overall survival time (20.7 mo). The therapy was well tolerated, and no significant toxicities were observed.
CONCLUSION: Thalidomide was found to be safe for advanced HCC patients, demonstrating anti-tumor activity including response, survival, and AFP decreases of greater than 50% from baseline.