Real-world use of sunitinib in Japanese patients with pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors: results from a post-marketing surveillance study

Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2019 Jan;83(1):201-207. doi: 10.1007/s00280-018-3724-3. Epub 2018 Nov 9.


Background: Sunitinib is approved for the treatment of progressive, well-differentiated pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (pNETs) in patients with unresectable, locally advanced or metastatic disease. Safety and efficacy data in Japanese patients are limited. We report outcomes from a post-marketing surveillance study of sunitinib treatment in Japanese patients.

Methods: Sunitinib 37.5 mg once daily was orally administered in Japanese patients aged ≥ 15 years with pNETs. The primary endpoints included adverse events (AEs) occurring during the observation period of 168 days and objective response rate (ORR).

Results: Sunitinib was administered in 62 patients with pNETs. The median duration of treatment was 165 days. At 168 days from the start of treatment, 31 patients were still receiving sunitinib treatment and treatment continuation rate was 50.0%. Of the 31 patients who discontinued treatment, 18 (58.1%) discontinued because of AEs and 16 (51.6%) patients discontinued due to insufficient clinical effect. Of the 18 patients who discontinued due to AEs, 10 did so within 42 days of treatment initiation. The most common all-grade AEs were platelet count decreased (33.9%), diarrhea (29.0%), neutrophil count decreased (27.4%), hypertension (24.2%), and palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia syndrome (24.2%). In the 51 patients eligible for the efficacy analysis, ORR was 13.7% (95% confidence interval, 5.7-26.3) and clinical benefit rate was 70.6%.

Conclusions: There were no new safety concerns in real-world use of sunitinib in Japanese patients with pNETs. The short treatment duration likely led to low tumor response. Appropriate AEs management through dose interruption/reduction is essential for sunitinib treatment success in this patient population.

Keywords: Objective response rate; Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors; Japan; Safety; Sunitinib.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / drug therapy*
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / pathology
  • Product Surveillance, Postmarketing*
  • Prognosis
  • Sunitinib / therapeutic use*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Sunitinib