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Previously approved to treat advanced kidney cancer, sorafenib (Nexavar) is the first drug to extend the lives of patients with advanced primary liver cancer in clinical trials. Results from a multinational study involving 602 patients with advanced liver cancer are impressive, researchers say, and will probably change the way the disease is treated.


Study participants who took sorafenib survived an average of 10.7 months, compared with 7.9 months for those in the placebo group. Although less than 3 months may not sound like a substantial improvement, researchers say this survival advantage has never before been achieved with liver cancer and represents a major breakthrough. They stopped the study early to switch patients who were taking a placebo to sorafenib.


Sorafenib is an oral multikinase inhibitor that interferes with both tumor cell growth and blood supply. The findings were reported at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago, Ill., in June.