Article Abstract

Survival differences among patients with hepatocellular carcinoma based on the stage of disease and therapy received: pre and post sorafenib era

Authors: Chintan Shah, Lazarus K. Mramba, Rohit Bishnoi, Harini Bejjanki, Hardik Satish Chhatrala, Sreenivasa R. Chandana


Background: The incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is increasing. Development of newer therapeutic modalities has changed the paradigm of HCC treatment in recent years. So, the aim of our study is to analyze the impact of these treatment modalities into the survival of HCC patients, based on the stage of HCC in real life practice.
Methods: We analyzed the data from the SEER database: Incidence − SEER 18 Regs Research Data + Hurricane Katrina Impacted Louisiana Cases, Nov 2015 Sub (1973–2013 varying). Relative survival rates (RSRs) and hazard ratios (HRs) were measured for patients diagnosed with HCC between 2001 and 2013. Rates were compared between pre sorafenib [2001–2007] and post sorafenib [2008–2013] eras.
Results: A total of 50,088 patients (21,435 in pre sorafenib era and 28,653 in the post-sorafenib era) were included with HCC from SEER database. The median relative survival for the entire population was 14 months with 5-year RSR of 21.20%; 11 months for those diagnosed in 2001–2007 with 5-year RSR 19.30% and 17 months for those diagnosed in 2008–2013 with 5-year RSR 22.40% (P<0.01). This survival improvement was largely limited to HCC patients with single nodule (5-year RSR; 35.1% vs. 37.00% for pre and post sorafenib era respectively; P value <0.01) and multiple nodules without vascular invasion (5-year RSR; 19.90% vs. 22.60% for pre and post sorafenib era respectively; P value <0.01). RSR remained extremely poor with no significant improvement for advanced stage HCC who had vascular invasion (P=0.37) or distant metastasis (P=0.10), respectively for pre and post sorafenib era in each category. Survival improved since 2008, for HCC patients who received either no surgical intervention (P<0.01) or received tumor-directed therapy (P<0.01), however, it remained significantly poor compared to the patients who received lobectomy or hepatectomy and transplant. Approximately 70% of patients from our study population did not receive any HCC directed surgical intervention and among this, more than 40% of patients were with single nodule in the liver.
Conclusions: Survival in patients with HCC has improved since 2008, which is limited to early stage HCC. Survival of advanced stage HCC patients is extremely poor and has not shown any significant improvement since the approval of sorafenib, emphasizing the need for better therapeutic options. Not receiving any surgical intervention is associated with significantly poor prognosis. Large numbers of early stage HCC patients were not able to receive surgical interventions. This can impose a significant financial burden, as these patients would progress on to the advanced stage, where treatment options are very limited and not as cost-effective. This emphasizes the need for further research to identify various barriers and the possible need for healthcare policy changes.