A trial looking at cabozantinib for primary liver cancer that had got worse despite having sorafenib

Cancer type:

Liver cancer

Status:

Results

Phase:

Phase 3

This trial looked at cabozantinib for people with the most common type of primary liver cancer called hepatocellular carcinoma or HCC. 

It was for people who had already had the cancer drug sorafenib. 

This trial was open for people to join between 2013 and 2017. The trial team published the results in 2018.

More about this trial

Doctors often use sorafenib to treat primary liver cancer, but sometimes the cancer can come back. Researchers are looking for treatments to help people in this situation.

Cabozantinib is a targeted drug called a cancer growth blocker. It stops signals that cancer cells use to divide and grow.

In this trial, researchers compared cabozantinib with a dummy drug (a placebo Open a glossary item.)

The aims of the trial were to:

  • find out if cabozantinib worked for people with advanced primary liver cancer
  • learn more about the side effects   

Summary of results

The trial team found that cabozantinib worked for people with primary liver cancer. It increased the length of time before the cancer came back. And the length of time before the cancer started to grow again. 

About this trial
707 people took part in this phase 3 trial. They were put into a treatment group at random. Neither they nor their doctor knew which treatment they were having. This was a double blind trial. 

Twice as many people had cabozantinib as had the dummy drug.

  • 470 had cabozantinib.
  • 237 had the dummy drug.

Results
The researchers looked at how well treatment worked. To do this they looked at the average length of time people lived. This is called overall survival. They found this was:

  • just over 10 months in people who had cabozantinib 
  • 8 months in people who had the dummy drug

They also looked at the average length of time before the cancer started to grow again. On average this was:

  • just over 5 months (5.2) in people who had cabozantinib
  • just under 2 months (1.9) in people who had the dummy drug 

Side effects
People who had cabozantinib had more side effects. The most severe were:

  • sore, swollen, red skin on hands and feet (palmer planter)
  • high blood pressure
  • liver changes
  • tiredness
  • diarrhoea  

Some people had to have a dose reduction as a result of these side effects.

Conclusion
The trial team concluded that cabozantinib worked for people with advanced primary liver cancer. 

There are phase 3 trials running, looking at cabozantinib in combination with a targeted drug called atezolizumab

Where this information comes from    
We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team who did the research. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Professor Tim Meyer

Supported by

Exelixis
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

11196

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Charlie took part in a trial to try new treatments

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“I think it’s really important that people keep signing up to these type of trials to push research forward.”

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