Sunitinib demonstrates superior survival, quality-of-life benefits compared with interferon alfa

In patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma, treatment with sunitinib yields longer progression-free survival rates and a better health-related quality of life than does the standard treatment, interferon alfa therapy, according to the results of a phase 3 trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). A total of 750 patients aged ≥18 years participated in this international, multicenter, randomized trial.

Key Points

In patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma, treatment with sunitinib yields longer progression-free survival rates and a better health-related quality of life than does the standard treatment, interferon alfa therapy, according to the results of a phase 3 trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

Participants were divided into 2 groups of 375 and were assigned to either repeated 6-week rounds of sunitinib 50 mg once daily for 4 weeks followed by 2 weeks without treatment, or subcutaneous interferon alfa 9 MU 3 times weekly. Treatment continued until the development of disease progression, unallowable adverse events, or consent withdrawal. Median treatment duration was 6 months (range, 1–15 months) in the sunitinib group and 4 months (range, 1–13 months) in the interferon alfa group. A total of 248 patients taking sunitinib continued treatment versus 126 patients taking interferon alfa. Factors leading to termination of treatment included progressive disease (25% of patients taking sunitinib vs 45% of patients taking interferon alfa; P<.001), adverse events (8% and 13%, respectively; P=.05), withdrawal of consent (1% and 8%, respectively; P<.001), and protocol violation (<1% in each group).

The authors stated that, based on trials to date, use of antiangiogenic therapy may be a realistic strategy for treating clear cell renal cell cancer. They suggested that more studies be conducted to further assess the efficacy of sunitinib in treating the disease.

SOURCE Motzer RJ, Hutson TE, Tomczak P, et al. Sunitinib versus interferon alfa in metastatic renal-cell carcinoma. N Engl J Med. 2007;356:115–124.