Onyx and Bayer’s kidney cancer drug Nexavar (sorafenib) was also found to extend the lives of liver cancer patients in a clinical trial by almost three months, or 44%, doctors said.
The results of the trial were scheduled to be presented Monday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago.
In the trial, liver cancer patients who received Nexavar lived a median of 10.7 months, compared with 7.9 months for those who received a placebo. The main side effects were diarrhea and a painful syndrome in the hands and feet.
The trial involved 602 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common form of liver cancer. Doctors said the results would not apply to other forms of liver cancer or to cancers that originated elsewhere, such as in the lung or breast, and then spread to the liver.
“We did not have anything for these patients,” said principal trial investigator Dr. Josep Lovet in a New York Times report. “Now we have an effective drug that prolongs survival.”
Nexavar is already approved as a treatment for kidney cancer, meaning that doctors may prescribe it “off-label” for patients with liver cancer.