Background: Sunitinib and sorafenib are oral vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR) tyrosine-kinase inhibitors used in various cancers. Bleeding has been described with these agents, although the overall risk remains unclear. We did a systematic review and meta-analysis to calculate the incidence and relative risk associated with use of sunitinib and sorafenib.
Methods: We searched PubMed (from January, 1966, to April, 2009) and meeting proceedings of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the European Society of Medical Oncology (2004-09) for relevant clinical trials. Eligible studies included phase 2 and 3 trials and expanded-access programmes. Statistical analyses were done to calculate summary incidences, relative risks, and 95% CI, using random-effects or fixed-effects models based on the heterogeneity of included studies.
Findings: 23 trials were selected for the meta-analysis, yielding a total of 6779 patients. The incidence of bleeding events (all grades) was 16.7% (95% CI 12.7-21.5), and that of high-grade events was 2.4% (1.6-3.9). The relative risk of all-grade bleeding events associated with sunitinib and sorafenib (for randomised controlled trials only) was 2.0 (1.14-3.49; p=0.015). Our analysis was also stratified by underlying malignant disease (renal-cell carcinoma vs non-renal-cell carcinoma) and agent used, but no differences were recorded.
Interpretation: Treatment with the VEGFR tyrosine-kinase inhibitors sunitinib and sorafenib is associated with a significant increase in risk of bleeding.