Purpose: An open-label, phase II study to evaluate progression-free survival (PFS), overall best response, adverse events (AEs), and patient-reported outcomes with sorafenib versus interferon alfa-2a (IFN-alpha-2a) in patients with untreated, advanced renal cancer.
Patients and methods: A total of 189 patients were randomly assigned to oral sorafenib 400 mg twice daily or to subcutaneous IFN-alpha-2a 9 million U three times weekly (period 1). Sorafenib patients who progressed were dose-escalated to 600 mg twice daily; IFN-alpha-2a patients who progressed were switched to sorafenib 400 mg twice daily (period 2).
Results: In period 1 PFS was similar for sorafenib-treated (n = 97; 5.7 months) and IFN-alpha-2a-treated patients (n = 92; 5.6 months); more sorafenib-treated patients had tumor shrinkage (68.2% v 39.0%). Common drug-related AEs (Grades > or = 3) for sorafenib were hand-foot skin reaction (11.3%), diarrhea (6.2%), and rash/desquamation (6.2%); for IFN-alpha-2a, these were fatigue (10.0%), nausea (3.3%), flu-like syndrome (2.2%), and anorexia (2.2%). Sorafenib-treated patients reported fewer symptoms, better quality of life (QOL), and greater treatment satisfaction. In period 2, 41.9% of patients who received sorafenib 600 mg twice daily (n = 43) experienced tumor reduction (median PFS, 3.6 months). After the switch to sorafenib 400 mg twice daily, tumors were reduced in 76.2% of 50 patients (median PFS, 5.3 months). AEs were mostly grade 1 to 2; no increase in AEs of grades > or = 3 occurred after sorafenib dose escalation.
Conclusion: In this study, sorafenib resulted in similar PFS as IFN-alpha-2a in patients with untreated RCC. However, sorafenib-treated patients experienced greater rates of tumor size reduction, better QOL, and improved tolerability. Both dose escalation of sorafenib after progression and a switch to sorafenib after progression on IFN-alpha-2a resulted in clinical benefit.