Background and aims: Combination atezolizumab/bevacizumab is the gold standard for first-line treatment of unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Our study investigated the efficacy and safety of combination therapy in older patients with HCC.
Methods: 191 consecutive patients from eight centres receiving atezolizumab and bevacizumab were included. Overall survival (OS), progression-free survival (PFS), overall response rate (ORR) and disease control rate (DCR) defined by RECIST v1.1 were measured in older (age ≥ 65 years) and younger (age < 65 years) age patients. Treatment-related adverse events (trAEs) were evaluated.
Results: The elderly (n = 116) had higher rates of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (19.8% vs. 2.7%; p < .001), presenting with smaller tumours (6.2 cm vs 7.9 cm, p = .02) with less portal vein thrombosis (31.9 vs. 54.7%, p = .002), with fewer patients presenting with BCLC-C stage disease (50.9 vs. 74.3%, p = .002). There was no significant difference in OS (median 14.9 vs. 15.1 months; HR 1.15, 95% CI 0.65-2.02 p = .63) and PFS (median 7.1 vs. 5.5 months; HR 1.11, 95% CI 0.54-1.92; p = .72) between older age and younger age. Older patients had similar ORR (27.6% vs. 20.0%; p = .27) and DCR (77.5% vs. 66.1%; p = .11) compared to younger patients. Atezolizumab-related (40.5% vs. 48.0%; p = .31) and bevacizumab-related (44.8% vs. 41.3%; p = .63) trAEs were comparable between groups. Rates of grade ≥3 trAEs and toxicity-related treatment discontinuation were similar between older and younger age patients. Patients 75 years and older had similar survival and safety outcomes compared to younger patients.
Conclusions: Atezolizumab and bevacizumab therapy is associated with comparable efficacy and tolerability in older age patients with unresectable HCC.
Keywords: anti-programmed death-ligand; anti-vascular endothelial growth factor; checkpoint inhibitor; cirrhosis; immunotherapy.
© 2022 The Authors. Liver International published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.