• 18F-FDG PET;
  • hepatocellular carcinoma;
  • sorafenib


Background: Sorafenib (Nexavar) is an orally active multikinase inhibitor that is approved for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In this study, we used 18F-2-fluoro-2-deoxyglucose (18F-FDG) with positron emission tomography (PET) to predict the treatment outcome of sorafenib in patients with advanced HCC.

Materials and methods: A total of 29 patients with HCC were included. Baseline 18F-FDG PET scans were performed a median of 14 days before sorafenib treatment. Sorafenib was administered orally at a dose of 400 mg twice daily. For statistical analysis, the standardized uptake value (SUV) of the most hypermetabolic lesion was obtained and assigned as the SUVmax for each patient.

Results: Among 29 patients, one patient achieved partial remission and 14 patients showed stable disease. The overall survival (OS) and progression free survival (PFS) were 5.1 months [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.0–12.0] and 3.8 months (95% CI: 1.4–6.2). The multivariate analysis of OS showed that four indices, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status, α-fetoprotein (AFP) concentration, portal vein thrombosis and SUVmax were significant prognostic factors (P=0.030, P=0.024, P=0.020 and P=0.015 respectively). AFP concentration and SUVmax were independent prognostic factors for PFS, too (P=0.003 and P=0.026 respectively). When the patients were divided into two groups: low SUVmax (n=10; <5.00) and high SUVmax (n=19;≥5.00), the low SUV group showed significantly longer OS and PFS (P=0.023 and P=0.042 respectively).

Conclusion: Our study showed that the degree of FDG uptake is an independent prognostic factor in patients with HCC who undergo sorafenib treatment.