Chronic thalidomide and chemoembolization for hepatocellular carcinoma

Jennifer Wu, Jennifer Ng, Paul J. Christos, Alec S. Goldenberg, Joseph Sparano, Max W. Sung, Howard S. Hochster, Franco M. Muggia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background. Transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (TACE) has been used to curtail tumor vasculature and delay tumor progression in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We conducted a phase I trial to evaluate the efficacy and toxicity of thalidomide when combined with TACE in patients with advanced HCC.

Methods. Between June 2000 and November 2003, 56 patients with unresectable HCC and amenable to TACE were enrolled. The starting dose of thalidomide was 200 mg/day and was escalated every 2 weeks as tolerated to a maximum dose of 1,000 mg/day. Dose reductions and discontinuation were determined by toxicity. TACE was performed 4 weeks after initiation of thalidomide therapy and repeated as necessary.

Results. Overall, 47 and 55 patients were evaluable for response and toxicity, respectively; the median dose of thalidomide given was 200 mg/day. Three patients (6.38%) patients achieved complete responses, whereas 10 (21.3%) had partial responses, for an overall response rate of 27.7%, and 27 (57.5%) had stable disease. Median progression-free survival was 7 months (95% confidence interval [CI]: 5–10 months), and median OS was 21 months (95% CI: 16–28 months) (Fig. 1). Fatigue and lethargy (49.1%), constipation (47.3%), and nausea (43.6%) were common. Grade 3–4 toxicities consisted mostly of increased aspartate aminotransferase (43.6%) and elevated alanine aminotransferase (38.2%) (Table 1).

Conclusion. Thalidomide and TACE were commonly associated with nonhematologic side effects, with fatigue and constipation being prominent. With a lack of clear therapeutic benefit, this combination is unlikely to be pursued for HCC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1229-1230
Number of pages2
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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