Ramucirumab for Patients with Advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma and Elevated Alpha Fetoprotein Following Non-Sorafenib Systemic Therapy: An Expansion Cohort of REACH-2

Oncologist. 2022 Dec 9;27(12):e938-e948. doi: 10.1093/oncolo/oyac183.


Background: Ramucirumab is indicated for patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and α-fetoprotein (AFP) ≥400 ng/mL following sorafenib. Here, we prospectively studied ramucirumab following non-sorafenib systemic therapies.

Materials and methods: This open-label, non-comparative cohort of REACH-2 enrolled patients with advanced HCC, Child-Pugh class-A liver disease, and AFP ≥400 ng/mL who had received 1-2 lines of therapy, excluding sorafenib or chemotherapy. Ramucirumab was administered 8 mg/kg intravenously Q2W. The primary endpoint was safety. Secondary endpoints were overall survival, progression-free survival, objective response rate (RECIST v1.1), time to progression, pharmacokinetics, and patient-reported outcomes. Final analysis occurred after all enrolled patients completed ≥3 treatment cycles or discontinued treatment.

Results: Between April 27, 2018, and March 29, 2021, 47 patients were treated at 21 investigative sites in Asia, Europe, and USA. The most frequently reported grade ≥3 adverse events, regardless of causality, were hypertension (11%), proteinuria (6%), hyponatremia (6%), and AST increased (6%). Two patients died from adverse events (myocardial infarction and upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage), deemed related to treatment. Median progression-free survival, time to progression, and overall survival were 1.7 months, 2.8 months, and 8.7 months, respectively. The objective response rate was 10.6% with a median duration response of 8.3 months. Median time to deterioration in FHSI-8 total score was 4.4 months.

Conclusion: Ramucirumab demonstrated consistent and meaningful clinical activity with no new safety signals following non-sorafenib therapies in patients with advanced HCC and AFP ≥400 ng/mL. This represents one of the first sequencing studies for patients with advanced HCC not treated with sorafenib.

Keywords: advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC); non-sorafenib; ramucirumab; α-fetoprotein.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular* / drug therapy
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Sorafenib / therapeutic use
  • alpha-Fetoproteins


  • Sorafenib
  • alpha-Fetoproteins