Does first-line treatment have prognostic impact for unresectable HCC?-Atezolizumab plus bevacizumab versus lenvatinib

Cancer Med. 2023 Jan;12(1):325-334. doi: 10.1002/cam4.4854. Epub 2022 Jun 3.


Background/aim: A comparison of therapeutic efficacy between atezolizumab plus bevacizumab (Atez/Bev) and lenvatinib treatment given as first-line therapy for unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (u-HCC) in regard to progression-free survival (PFS) overall survival (OS) has not been reported. We aimed to elucidate which of those given as initial treatment for u-HCC has greater prognostic impact on PFS and OS of affected patients, retrospectively.

Materials/methods: From 2020 to January 2022, 251 u-HCC (Child-Pugh A, ECOG PS 0/1, BCLC-B/C) treated were enrolled (Atez/Bev-group, n = 194; lenvatinib-group, n = 57). PFS and OS were analyzed following adjustment based on inverse probability weighting (IPW).

Results: There was a greater number of patients with macro-vascular invasion in Atez/Bev-group (22.7% vs. 8.8%, p = 0.022). In lenvatinib-group, the frequencies of appetite loss (38.6% vs. 19.6%, p = 0.002), hypothyroidism (21.1% vs. 6.7%, p = 0.004), hand foot skin reaction (19.3% vs. 1.0%, p < 0.001), and diarrhea (10.5% vs. 4.6%, p = 0.012) were greater, while that of general fatigue was lower (22.8% vs. 26.3%, p = 0.008). Comparisons of therapeutic best response using modified response evaluation criteria in solid tumors (mRECIST) did not show significant differences between the present groups (Atez/Bev vs. lenvatinib: CR/PR/SD/PD = 6.1%/39.1%/39.1%/15.6% vs. 0%/48.0%/38.0%/14.0%, p = 0.285). In patients of discontinuation of treatments, 48.2% switched to lenvatinib, 10.6% continued beyond PD, 8.2% received another systemic treatment, 5.9% underwent transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (TACE), 3.5% received hepatic arterial infusion chemotherapy (HAIC), and 1.2% underwent surgical resection in Atez/Bev-group, while 42.2% switched to Atez/Bev, 4.4% continued beyond PD, 4.4% received another systemic treatment, 2.2% nivolumab, 6.7% received TACE, and 2.2% received HAIC in lenvatinib-group. Following adjustment with inverse probability weighting (IPW), Atez/Bev-group showed better PFS (0.5-/1-/1.5-years: 56.6%/31.6%/non-estimable vs. 48.6%/20.4%/11.2%, p < 0.0001) and OS rates (0.5-/1-/1.5-years: 89.6%/67.2%/58.1% vs. 77.8%/66.2%/52.7%, p = 0.002).

Conclusion: The present study showed that u-HCC patients who received Atez/Bev as a first-line treatment may have a better prognosis than those who received lenvatinib.

Keywords: atezolizumab plus bevacizumab; hepatocellular carcinoma; lenvatinib; prognosis.

MeSH terms

  • Bevacizumab / adverse effects
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular* / drug therapy
  • Chemoembolization, Therapeutic*
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies


  • lenvatinib
  • Bevacizumab
  • atezolizumab