Background. With the aging population, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in the elderly represents a significant health burden. We aimed to evaluate and compare the efficacy and tolerability of single-agent sorafenib in treating elderly patients with advanced HCC versus the younger population.
Methods. We retrospectively analyzed a consecutive cohort of advanced HCC patients with Child-Pugh A or B liver function and an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status score of 0-2 treated with sorafenib. The patients were categorized into older (age ≥70 years) and younger (age <70 years) groups. Treatment outcomes and related adverse events (AEs) were compared.
Results. In total, 172 patients, 35 in the older (median age, 73 years) and 137 in the younger (median age, 55 years) group, were analyzed. The median progression-free survival time was similar in the older and younger groups (2.99 months versus 3.09 months; p = .275), as was the overall survival time (5.32 months versus 5.16 months; p = .310). Grade 3 or 4 AEs were observed in 68.6% of older and 62.7% of younger patients (p = .560), with neutropenia (11.4% versus 0.7%; p = .007), malaise (11.4% versus 2.2%; p = .033), and mucositis (5.7% versus 0.0%; p = .041) being more frequently reported in the elderly cohort.
Conclusions. The survival benefits and overall treatment-related AEs of sorafenib are comparable in elderly and younger advanced HCC patients. Nevertheless, more vigilant monitoring in the elderly is warranted because they are more susceptible to develop neutropenia, malaise, and mucositis.