A Real-World Experience on a Chinese Population of Patients With Unresectable Hepatocellular Carcinoma Treated With Nivolumab

Shou-Wu Lee, Sheng-Shun Yang, Teng-Yu Lee


Background: For unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), nivolumab (anti-programmed death receptor-1 (PD-1)) is used as non-curative interventions. The aim of the study was to focus on the real-world experience of nivolumab applied to patients with HCC.

Methods: Unresectable HCC patients receiving nivolumab treatments at Taichung Veterans General Hospital, from June 2018 to May 2020, were recruited. Exclusion criteria were Child-Pugh stage C, poor performance status, a lack of compliance or intolerable to drug treatments. The tumor radiological responses and survival outcomes of enrolled patients were collected and analyzed.

Results: Among a total of 57 patients, most of them were classified as Child-Pugh stage A (70.2%) and Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer (BCLC) stage C (66.7%). Nivolumab was given to 14 (24.6%) as the primary-line, and 43 patients (75.4%) as the secondary-line systemic treatments. The mean therapeutic duration was 6.5 months. Objective response rate (ORR) was 24.6%, and disease control rate (DCR) was 42.1%. The overall median progression-free survival (PFS) was 5.8 months (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.1 - 10.6), and overall survival (OS) was 11.5 months (95% CI: 4.3 - 17.8). Immune-related adverse event (IRAE) was 8.8%. Presence of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) response (a decline in AFP ? 10% from baseline) during therapy predicted the tumor radiological response (to objective response: hazard ratio (HR): 4.89, 95% CI: 1.14 - 21.00; to disease control: HR: 4.71, 95% CI: 1.32 - 16.81). Those with tumor radiological responses showed longer PFS and OS.

Conclusions: Decline in AFP during therapy has a predicting role on HCC radiological responses to nivolumab. Achieving radiological responses had better survival outcomes.

Gastroenterol Res. 2024;17(1):15-22
doi: https://doi.org/10.14740/gr1684


Alpha-fetoprotein; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Nivolumab

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