Background: The multitargeted tyrosine kinase inhibitor sunitinib has shown activity against pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors in preclinical models and phase 1 and 2 trials.
Methods: We conducted a multinational, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 3 trial of sunitinib in patients with advanced, well-differentiated pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. All patients had Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors-defined disease progression documented within 12 months before baseline. A total of 171 patients were randomly assigned (in a 1:1 ratio) to receive best supportive care with either sunitinib at a dose of 37.5 mg per day or placebo. The primary end point was progression-free survival; secondary end points included the objective response rate, overall survival, and safety.
Results: The study was discontinued early, after the independent data and safety monitoring committee observed more serious adverse events and deaths in the placebo group as well as a difference in progression-free survival favoring sunitinib. Median progression-free survival was 11.4 months in the sunitinib group as compared with 5.5 months in the placebo group (hazard ratio for progression or death, 0.42; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.26 to 0.66; P<0.001). A Cox proportional-hazards analysis of progression-free survival according to baseline characteristics favored sunitinib in all subgroups studied. The objective response rate was 9.3% in the sunitinib group versus 0% in the placebo group. At the data cutoff point, 9 deaths were reported in the sunitinib group (10%) versus 21 deaths in the placebo group (25%) (hazard ratio for death, 0.41; 95% CI, 0.19 to 0.89; P=0.02). The most frequent adverse events in the sunitinib group were diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, asthenia, and fatigue.
Conclusions: Continuous daily administration of sunitinib at a dose of 37.5 mg improved progression-free survival, overall survival, and the objective response rate as compared with placebo among patients with advanced pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. (Funded by Pfizer; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00428597.).