Preliminary studies suggest that capecitabine may be safe and effective in HCC patients. The aim of this study was to retrospectively evaluate the safety and efficacy of metronomic capecitabine as second-line treatment. This multicentric study retrospectively analyzed data of HCC patients unresponsive or intolerant to sorafenib treatment with metronomic capecitabine or best supportive care (BSC). Median progression free survival was 3.1 months in patients treated with capecitabine (95% CI: 2.7-3.5). Median overall survival was 12.0 months (95% CI: 10.7-15.8) in patients receiving capecitabine, while 9.0 months (95% CI: 6.5-13.9) in patients receiving BSC. The result of univariate unweighted Cox regression model shows a 46% reduction in death risk for patients on capecitabine (95% CI: 0.357-0.829; p = 0.005) compared to patients receiving BSC alone. After weighting for potential confounders, death risk remained essentially unaltered (45%; 95% CI: 0.354-0.883; p = 0.013). Metronomic capecitabine seems a safe second-line treatment for HCC patients in terms of management of adverse events, showing a potential anti-tumour activity which needs further evaluation in phase III studies.
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