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Koch, Christine; Goeller, Markus; Schott, Eckart; Waidmann, Oliver; Winkel, Mark op den; Paprottka, Philipp; Zangos, Stephan; Vogl, Thomas; Bechstein, Wolf Otto; Zeuzem, Stefan; Kolligs, Frank T. and Trojan, Joerg (2021): Combination of Sorafenib and Transarterial Chemoembolization in Selected Patients with Advanced-Stage Hepatocellular Carcinoma: A Retrospective Cohort Study at Three German Liver Centers. In: Cancers, Vol. 13, No. 9, 2121

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Simple Summary Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) is the treatment of choice for patients with liver cancer without distant metastases or tumor growth into blood vessels. For the latter patients, sorafenib is a well-established oral medication. Combination of both treatments might also enhance effectiveness and survival in patients with advanced tumor stages. We retrospectively compared patients with advanced liver cancer (with distant metastases and/or tumor growth into blood vessels) from three German university hospitals who received either TACE alone, sorafenib alone or the combination treatment. We found that survival was prolonged for patients receiving the combination treatment without increasing frequency or severity of side effects. These results are in line with published results from Asian patients and show that this treatment might also be feasible in a Western population for selected patients with advanced liver cancer. Background and Aims. Systemic treatment with sorafenib has been the standard of care (SOC) in patients with advanced Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer (BCLC) stage C hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) for more than a decade. TACE has been reported to allow better local tumor control in selected patients with BCLC stage C HCC. Methods. A retrospective analysis of patients with BCLC stage C HCC that were treated with sorafenib and TACE was conducted;they were compared to BCLC stage C patients treated either with TACE or sorafenib in the same period of time outside a clinical trial. Results. A total of 201 patients with BCLC stage C were identified, who were treated with either sorafenib and TACE (group A;n = 54), sorafenib (group B;n = 82) or TACE (group C;n = 65). No significant difference in baseline characteristics was observed. Time to progression was 7.0 months (95% CI: 4.3-9.7), 4.1 months (95% CI: 3.6-4.7) and 5.0 months (95% CI: 2.9-7.1) in groups A, B and C, respectively, and overall survival was 16.5 months (95% CI: 15.0-18.1), 8.4 months (95% CI: 6.0-10.8) and 10.5 months (95% CI: 7.5-13.6), respectively (group A vs. group B: p < 0.001;group A vs. group C: p = 0.0023). Adverse events of grade 3/4 occurred in 34% of patients in group A. Conclusions. Although sorafenib is a SOC in patients with BCLC stage C HCC, TACE is frequently used as an additional locoregional treatment in selected patients. This combined approach resulted in a significant overall survival benefit in selected patients, although randomized trials have not yet proven this benefit.

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