Hepatocellular carcinoma and octreotide: Treatment results in prospectively assigned patients with advanced tumor and cirrhosis stage


Karl Lenhard Rudolph, Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endocrinology, Medical School of Hannover, Carl-Neuberg-Str. 1, 30625 Hannover, Germany. Email: Rudolph.Lenhard@mh-hannover.de


Background and Aim:  Treatment of inoperable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains a major clinical problem. The only efficient treatment options are percutaneous ethanol injection (PEI), radiofrequency ablation (RF) and transarterial chemoembolization (TACE), but these therapies are only applicable to patients with limited tumor spread and sufficient liver function. For patients with advanced tumor and poor liver function a systemic therapy is required. Octreotide, a somatostatin analog with antimitotic activity, is a controversial treatment option.

Methods:  In the current study we prospectively assigned a group of 41 HCC patients with advanced HCC and cirrhosis stage to treatment with octreotide. The clinical and laboratory parameters were monitored and survival was analyzed using a Cox regression model.

Results:  The medium survival in the group of all patients was 571 days. Using the Cox regression there was a significant difference in survival for alpha-fetoprotein (= 0.026) and Quick's test (= 0.009) in consideration of the tumor dimension compared to the other characteristics. The tumor remained stable in 26 patients over a mean follow-up of 21 months and progressed in 14 patients. One patient showed a partial response. There was no incidence of severe side-effects (WHO grade 3–4). During the follow-up time, 14 patients died because of their underlying disease.

Conclusions:  Treatment with octreotide appears safe and patients show similar survival compared to a group of patients with advanced HCC treated with TACE. Further studies are necessary to investigate somatostatin receptor subtypes or receptor mutations of patients with advanced HCC in relation to their response.

© 2005 Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd