Sorafenib is the only Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved first-line therapy shown to have survival benefit for patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Patients with advanced HCC are often but not exclusively transferred from non-oncologists to oncologists to initiate systemic therapy. The objective of this study was to assess whether sorafenib prescribing by non-oncologists has any impact on utilization, adverse effects, cost or outcome.
This was a retrospective cohort study utilizing data from patients prescribed sorafenib for HCC within Veterans Health Administration hospitals with 100% chart abstraction to confirm HCC diagnosis, identify prescribing provider specialty (oncology versus gastroenterology/hepatology), and obtain data required for cancer staging by the Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer (BCLC) system. The primary outcome was overall survival from the time of sorafenib prescription.
A total of 4903 patients who prescribed sorafenib for HCC were identified, for whom 340 patients (6.9%) were prescribed drug by a non-oncologist (Onc). BCLC Stage, age, Child–Turcotte–Pugh score, and comorbidity indices were similar between patients prescribed sorafenib by oncologists and non-oncologists. Oncologists more often discontinued sorafenib due to progression, whereas non-oncologists were more likely to continue sorafenib until death resulting in greater pill utilization and cost. Overall survival in both unadjusted and multivariable models showed no significant impact of prescriber type on survival (222 vs 217 days, P = .96), confirmed with propensity-matched subcohorts.
Similar survival outcomes were observed for patients with HCC prescribed sorafenib by non-oncologists and oncologists, suggesting that non-oncologists with expertise in the management of HCC can safely and effectively administer sorafenib.