Real-world Treatment Patterns and Reasons for Therapy Selection in Patients with Advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma in US Oncology Practices

Oncologist. 2022 Mar 11;27(3):e265-e272. doi: 10.1093/oncolo/oyab059.


Background: The treatment landscape for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (aHCC) is rapidly expanding beyond tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) in the first-line (1L) setting, with multiple TKIs and immune-checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) now being evaluated in combination. Real-world evidence describing current treatment patterns and reasons for 1L and 2L treatment selection in aHCC is sparse.

Patients and methods: A retrospective cohort study with a cross-sectional survey element was conducted using Cardinal Health's Oncology Provider Extended Network. U.S. medical oncologists identified adult aHCC patients initiating 1L systemic therapy between January 1, 2017 and July 31, 2019 and abstracted data from patient medical records. Data included provider characteristics, patient demographics and clinical characteristics, treatment regimens, and physician rationale for treatment regimen choice.

Results: A total of 44 medical oncologists provided data on 284 aHCC patients. The median age at 1L initiation was 61.5 years, and the majority were male (78%) and white (66%). Nearly half (47%) initiated 1L treatment in 2019, 34% were ECOG performance status 2+, and 63% were Child-Pugh Class B/C. Among the 284 aHCC patients, TKIs were used by 94% of patients in the 1L setting, comprised predominantly of sorafenib (54%) and lenvatinib (38%). ICIs were most common among the 90 patients (66%) who received 2L treatment.

Conclusion: In the community-oncology practice setting, nearly all aHCC patients received sorafenib or lenvatinib in the 1L setting, while the majority of patients received an ICI in the 2L setting. With recent ICI approvals in aHCC, this marks the beginning of an increased use of ICIs in the 1L setting.

Keywords: atezolizumab; bevacizumab; carcinoma; hepatocellular; humans; immune checkpoint inhibitors; liver neoplasms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular* / drug therapy
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Liver Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sorafenib / therapeutic use


  • Sorafenib