Chemotherapy is not effective for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). HMG-CoA redutase inhibitors have cytostatic activity for cancer cells, but their clinical usefulness is unknown. To investigate whether pravastatin, a potent HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor, prolongs survival in patients with advanced HCC, this randomized controlled trial was conducted between February 1990 and February 1998 at Osaka University Hospital. 91 consecutive patients <71 years old (mean age 62) with unresectable HCC were enroled in this study. 8 patients were withdrawn because of progressive liver dysfunction; 83 patients were randomized to standard treatment with or without pravastatin. All patients underwent transcatheter arterial embolization (TAE) followed by oral 5-FU 200 mg(-1)d for 2 months. Patients were then randomly assigned to control (n = 42) and pravastatin (n = 41) groups. Pravastatin was administered at a daily dose of 40 mg. The effect of pravastatin on tumour growth was assessed by ultrasonography. Primary endpoint was death due to progression of HCC. The duration of pravastatin administration was 16.5 +/- 9.8 months (mean +/- SD). No patients in either group were lost to follow-up. Median survival was 18 months in the pravastatin group versus 9 months in controls (P = 0.006). The Cox proportional hazards model showed that pravastatin was a significant factor contributing to survival. Pravastatin prolonged the survival of patients with advanced HCC, suggesting its value for adjuvant treatment.
Copyright 2001 Cancer Research Campaign.