Cabozantinib in Japanese patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma: a phase 2 multicenter study

J Gastroenterol. 2021 Feb;56(2):181-190. doi: 10.1007/s00535-020-01753-0. Epub 2021 Jan 3.


Background: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of cabozantinib in Japanese patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) who had progressed following one or two lines of systemic therapy including sorafenib. An exploratory evaluation in sorafenib-naïve patients was performed.

Methods: In this open-label, single-arm, phase 2 trial, patients received oral cabozantinib 60 mg once daily. The primary endpoint was progression-free survival (PFS) rate at Week 24. Secondary endpoints included PFS, overall survival (OS), objective response rate (ORR, best response of complete/partial response), disease control rate (DCR, objective response or stable disease) and safety.

Results: Thirty-four patients received cabozantinib across 17 centers (prior sorafenib cohort, n = 20; sorafenib-naïve cohort, n = 14). PFS rate at 24 weeks was 59.8% [90% confidence interval (CI) 36.1-77.2%] in the prior sorafenib cohort, 16.7% (90% CI 4.0-36.8%) in the sorafenib-naïve cohort and 40.1% (90% CI 24.8-55.0%) overall. Median PFS was 7.4 months for the prior sorafenib cohort, 3.6 months for the sorafenib-naïve cohort, and 5.6 months overall. OS rate at 6 months was 100.0%, 78.6% and 91.1%, respectively; DCR was 85.0%, 64.3% and 76.5%, respectively. The ORR was 0.0% for both cohorts. All patients required dose modifications due to adverse events, the most common of these were palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia syndrome and diarrhea. Three patients (8.8%) discontinued due to adverse events other than disease progression.

Conclusions: Cabozantinib 60 mg/day has a favorable benefit/risk profile for Japanese patients with advanced HCC who have previously received one or two lines of systemic anticancer therapy including sorafenib. (Clinical trial registration: NCT03586973).

Keywords: Cabozantinib; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Japan; Lenvatinib; Sorafenib.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anilides / pharmacology*
  • Anilides / therapeutic use
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Liver Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Liver Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pyridines / pharmacology*
  • Pyridines / therapeutic use
  • Sorafenib / pharmacology
  • Sorafenib / therapeutic use


  • Anilides
  • Pyridines
  • cabozantinib
  • Sorafenib

Associated data