The outcomes and safety of single-agent sorafenib in the treatment of elderly patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)

Oncologist. 2011;16(12):1721-8. doi: 10.1634/theoncologist.2011-0192. Epub 2011 Dec 1.


Background: With the aging population, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in the elderly represents a significant health burden. We aimed to evaluate and compare the efficacy and tolerability of single-agent sorafenib in treating elderly patients with advanced HCC versus the younger population.

Methods: We retrospectively analyzed a consecutive cohort of advanced HCC patients with Child-Pugh A or B liver function and an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status score of 0-2 treated with sorafenib. The patients were categorized into older (age ≥70 years) and younger (age <70 years) groups. Treatment outcomes and related adverse events (AEs) were compared.

Results: In total, 172 patients, 35 in the older (median age, 73 years) and 137 in the younger (median age, 55 years) group, were analyzed. The median progression-free survival time was similar in the older and younger groups (2.99 months versus 3.09 months; p = .275), as was the overall survival time (5.32 months versus 5.16 months; p = .310). Grade 3 or 4 AEs were observed in 68.6% of older and 62.7% of younger patients (p = .560), with neutropenia (11.4% versus 0.7%; p = .007), malaise (11.4% versus 2.2%; p = .033), and mucositis (5.7% versus 0.0%; p = .041) being more frequently reported in the elderly cohort.

Conclusions: The survival benefits and overall treatment-related AEs of sorafenib are comparable in elderly and younger advanced HCC patients. Nevertheless, more vigilant monitoring in the elderly is warranted because they are more susceptible to develop neutropenia, malaise, and mucositis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Benzenesulfonates / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / drug therapy*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Niacinamide / analogs & derivatives
  • Phenylurea Compounds
  • Pyridines / therapeutic use*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sorafenib
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Benzenesulfonates
  • Phenylurea Compounds
  • Pyridines
  • Niacinamide
  • Sorafenib