Regorafenib for Taiwanese patients with unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma after sorafenib failure: Impact of alpha-fetoprotein levels

Cancer Med. 2022 Jan;11(1):104-116. doi: 10.1002/cam4.4430. Epub 2021 Nov 16.


Background and aims: Regorafenib has demonstrated its survival benefit for unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (uHCC) patients in a phase III clinical trial. We aimed to assess the efficacy and tolerability of regorafenib and the predictors of treatment outcomes in Taiwanese patients.

Methods: We analyzed the survival, best overall response, predictors of treatment outcomes, and safety for uHCC patients who had tumor progression on sorafenib therapy and received regorafenib as salvage therapy between March 2018 and November 2020.

Results: Eighty-six patients with uHCC were enrolled (median age, 66.5 years; 76.7% male). The median regorafenib treatment duration was 4.0 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 3.6-4.6). The most frequently reported adverse events were hand-foot skin reaction (44.2%), diarrhea (36.0%), and fatigue (29.1%). No unpredictable toxicity was observed during treatment. The median overall survival (OS) with regorafenib was 12.4 months (95% CI, 7.8-17.0) and the median progression-free survival (PFS) was 4.2 months (95% CI, 3.7-4.7). Of 82 patients with regorafenib responses assessable, 4 patients (4.9%) achieved a partial response, and 33 (40.2%) had stable disease, leading to a disease control rate (DCR) of 45.1% (n = 37). Patients possessing baseline AFP < 400 ng/ml exhibited a markedly longer median OS, median PFS, and higher DCR compared with their counterparts (15.7 vs. 8.1 months, 4.6 vs. 3.7 months, 60.9% vs. 27.5%, respectively). Despite possessing high baseline AFP levels, patients with early AFP response (>10% reduction at 4 weeks or >20% reduction at 8 weeks after regorafenib administration) exhibited comparable treatment outcomes to those with baseline AFP < 400 ng/ml.

Conclusions: The results of this real-world study verified the tolerability and efficacy of regorafenib treatment for uHCC patients who failed prior sorafenib therapy, especially for those with lower baseline AFP levels or with early AFP response.

Keywords: efficacy; hepatocellular carcinoma; regorafenib; sorafenib.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / blood
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / drug therapy*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / blood
  • Liver Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phenylurea Compounds / adverse effects
  • Phenylurea Compounds / therapeutic use*
  • Pyridines / adverse effects
  • Pyridines / therapeutic use*
  • Risk Factors
  • Salvage Therapy*
  • Sorafenib / therapeutic use*
  • Survival Analysis
  • Taiwan
  • alpha-Fetoproteins / metabolism*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Phenylurea Compounds
  • Pyridines
  • alpha-Fetoproteins
  • regorafenib
  • Sorafenib