Hepatocellular Carcinoma Postoperative Adjuvant Therapy Disease Committee of Taiwan Cooperative Oncology Group
1. TREATMENT PLAN
1.1 Eligible patients are randomized to receive adjuvant IFN-α for 53 wks or 1.2
Administration of IFN-α 1.21 IFN-α will be started after randomization. 1.22 IFN-α
will be administered by subcutaneous injection at the bed time. 1.23 Escalation of
IFN-α dosage. 1.231 During the first 2 days, 1 x 106 u/day will be given. 1.232 If
tolerable, the dose of IFN-α will be escalated to 3 x 106 u/day in days 3 and 4, and to
5 x 106 u/day at day 5.
1.24 After dose escalation, IFN-α 5 x 106 u/day will be given in the following ways
1.241 induction therapy: 5 times per week for the first 4 weeks, followed by 1.242
maintenance therapy: 3 times per weeks for additional 48 weeks. 1.25 Modification of
IFN-α dosage 1.251 In the presence of any moderate adverse events (as listing in
Appendix II) it required a dose reduction to 3 x 106 u/day.
1.2511 If any moderate adverse events occur at the 3 x 106 u/day level, the patients
will be withdraw from the study; 1.252 In the presence of any severe adverse events
(as listing in Appendix II), it requires immediate discontinuation of therapy; 1.2521
IFN-α will be discontinued until a return to baseline or moderate toxicity. Then IFN-α
will be reinstituted at the dose level of 3 x 106 u/day; 1.2522 If moderate or severe
adverse events occur at the 3 x 106 u/day level, the patients will be withdraw from the
1.253 Flare-up of hepatitis activity, as manifested by increment of serum transaminase
per se is not an indication for dose modification; 1.254 If symptoms/signs (S/S) of
hepatic decompensation occur after the presence of ALT flare-up during IFN-α therapy,
the drug will be held.
1.2541 The presence of two of following five criteria is considered as evidence of
hepatic decompensation: 1.25411 Presence of ascites; 1.25412 Presence of hepatic
encephalopathy; 1.25413 hypoalbuminemia with serum albumin < 3 g/dl; 1.25414
hyperbilirubinemia with serum bilirubin > 3 mg/dl; 1.25415 Prolongation of prothrombin
time with PT > 2 sec above base-line. 1.2542 Serial workup have to be taken to rule
out the presence of other predisposing factor (such as spontaneous bacterial
peritonitis, constipation, electrolyte imbalance,...ect) to cause the S/S of hepatic
decompensation. If any, start specific treatment.
1.2543 If S/S of hepatic decompensation recovered with a return of serum ALT to ≦1.5
times upper limit of normal range, IFN-α will be restarted at the level of 3 x 106
u/day and escalated to 5 x 106 u/day within 1 week.
1.2544 If S/S of hepatic decompensation recovered with persistent elevation of serum
ALT > 1.5 times upper limit of normal range, IFN-α will be given and maintained at the
level 3 x 106 u/day 3 times per week.
1.2545 After excluding other specific etiologies and S/S of hepatic decompensation
persist longer than 4 weeks, patients will be withdrawn from the study.
1.2546 Recurrent episodes of hepatic decompensation will be considered as severe
adverse events and managed as listing in section 5.252.
1.255 If symptoms/signs (S/S) of hepatic decompensation occur in the absence of ALT
flare-up, the patients will be managed as listing in section 5.252.
1.256 In the presence of severe bacterial infection such as: bacterial peritonitis,
bacterial pneumonia, and .. etc., IFN-a will be held until resolution of infection
after adequate antibiotics therapy. Then the patients will be managed as listing in
1.26 Before IFN-α, if necessary patients will be pretreated with acetaminophen 500 -
1,000 mg, q 6 hours for 4 doses, started 12 hours before IFN-α administration to
alleviate the associated flu-like symptoms.
1.3 Adverse Drug Reaction (ADR) Reports 1.31 Any life threatening and/or unexpected
and serious (grade 3 or 4) toxicity will be reported within 48 hours to the principal
investigator: Li-Tzong Chen M.D. Cancer Clinical Research Center, National Health
Research Institutes, A191 Ward Veteran General Hospital Taipei, 201, Shih-Pai Road, Sec
2, Taipei 112, Taiwan Tel:886-2-8712121-2737; Fax: 886-2-8716467; and/or Per-Jei Chen,
M.D., Ph.D. Department of Internal Medicine, National Taiwan University Liver Disease
Research Center, National Taiwan University Hospital. Tel: 886-2-3970800-7072 Fax:
886-2-3317624. The initial contact should be made by calling the Coordinate Center of
TCOG,at 886-2-7852459. A written report will follow within 7 working days.
1.32 A written report will be submitted within 7 working days describing any
life-threatening or lethal (grade 4 or 5) known reactions (except for grade 4
myelosuppression), and any grade 2 or 3 unknown reactions. The address for submitting
ADR reports is: Coordinate Center of TCOG, National Health Research Institutes in
Biomedical Science, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan.
1.33 Above toxicity grading is according to the ECOG toxicity criteria (Appendix III)
The following tests should be performed within 2 weeks before the initiation of therapy
( as the baseline data) and then repeated as request following the initiation of
2.1 Physical examination and comprehensive history are recorded bi-weekly during
induction period (first month) and monthly during maintenance therapy (for one year).
After first year, patients will be followed bi-monthly. After 6 years , patients will
be followed 3 monthly.
2.2 Complete blood count and liver functional tests (bilirubin direct/indirect,
AST/ALT and alkaline phosphatase/gGT albumin AC sugar) will be checked bi-weekly during
induction period (first month) and monthly during maintenance therapy (for one year).
After first year, patients will be followed bi-monthly. After 6 years, patients will be
followed 3 monthly..
2.3 Chest PA every 4 months for one year and then every 6 months. 2.4 ECG for those
with history of cardiac disease at time of symptom recurrence.
2.5 a-fetoprotein will be checked monthly for one year and then bi-monthly. After 6
years, patients will be followed 3 monthly.
2.6 Abdominal sonography every 2 months. After 6 years, patients will be followed 3
2.7 Abdominal computed tomography performed every 12 months or whenever abdominal
sonography shows suspicious recurrent lesions.
2.8 Any suspicious lesion found on abdominal sonography and/or computed tomography
should undergo angiography and sono-guided biopsy for histological examination.
2.9 UGI endoscopy at the time of UGI bleeding or dyspepsia. [CANCEAL] 2.91
Preoperative endoscopy is acceptable as the base-line data. [CANCEAL] 2.10 Bone scan
at the time of symptoms suggest the occurrence of bony metastases.
2.11 Serum for HBV and HCV status study collected bi-monthly. 2.12 HBeAg and anti-HBe
will be checked every 4 months in those with HBeAg(+). After 6 years, patients will be
followed 6 monthly.
2.13 HBsAg will be checked every 6 months in those with HBsAg(+).
3.0 Off-study Criteria 3.1 Development of a serious medical condition which makes
administration of IFN-α life threatening.
3.11 Patients present with S/S of hepatic decompensation should be managed as list in
sections 5.2544 and 5.2545.
3.12 as those listed in 5.2511 and 5.2522. 3.2 Occurrence of tumor recurrence. 3.3
Non-compliance by a patient with protocol requirement. 3.4 Patient refusal further
therapy. 3.5 Patient death. 3.6 Interruption of IFN-α therapy ＞4 weeks
4.0 Statistical Consideration 4.1 Sample size Review of literatures showed that the
2-year survival rate of post-operative HCC was 25% to 60% [7-14]. We estimate that
adjuvant IFN-α can improve the 2-year survival rate from 50% to 70%. According to the
methods of Casagrande et al., to give a 90% power for detecting the increase of
20% for a two-sided statistical significance test, 134 patients for each of the two
treatment arms are needed. 4.2 Randomization Patients are stratified into two strata :
one with HBsAg(+),another with HBsAg(-) but with anti-HCV(+). Randomization of patients
into control or treatment group is taken within each stratum. Balanced block sizes of
two strata for randomization are different. 4.3 Analysis 4.31 The primary objectives
are as follows: 4.311 To determine if adjuvant IFN-α can reduce or delay the
occurrence in curatively resected HCC. 4.312 To determine if adjuvant IFN-α prolong
disease-free survival (DFS) and/or overall survival (OS) in curatively resected HCC.
4.313 To determine the safety and tolerance of IFN-αin post-operative H.C.C patients.
4.314 To evaluate the anti-viral activity of IFN-α in post-operative HCC patients.
4.32 DFS and OS are computed from the date of randomization. 4.321 In analysis of
DFS, patients died without disease recurrence will be censored for recurrence at the
date of death. 4.322 In analysis of OS, an event is defined as death from any cause.
4.323 The survival distributions of DFS and OS will be estimated by the Kaplan and
Meier method . 4 4.324 Statistical comparisons of DFS and OS between the two
treatment arms will be performed with the log-rank statistic . 4.325 Cox
proportional hazards model  will be used to assess the importance of potential
prognostic factors, as well as to test the significance of treatment when adjusting for
factors. 4.33 Tumor size, Liver inflammation, viral status such as HBsAg. anti-
- Patient's Specific Factor:
Performance status Age Sex Family history of HCC and liver diseases. Esophageal varices
Prior Hx of esophageal varices bleeding Serum ALT (SGPT) level Serum albumin level
Pre-operative serum α-FP level
- Underlying Liver Disease's Specific Factors:
HBsAg (by RIA) HBeAg (by RIA) anti-HBc anti-δ antibody anti-HCV antibody Severity of
underlying liver disease in nontumor portion Concurrent management of esophageal
- Tumor's Specific Factors:
Presence of capsule Tumor type Venous invasion Tumor size (the largest in multiple
lesions) Histological grading will be treated as potential prognostic factors.
4.4 Interim Analysis The interim analyses will be conducted according to the alpha
spending function approach proposed by DeMets and Lan (1994) which provides flexibility
about the time for interim analysis. The a1 spending function, which generates the
approximate O’Brien-Fleming boundaries (O’Brien and Fleming, 1979), will be used for a
conservation termination at the early stage of the study. In addition, the method of
B-value developed by Lan and Wittes (1988), Li (1998) will be used to monitor the data
and to compute the conditional probability of detecting either a positive or negative
treatment effect at the scheduled end of the study given the present status. The
primary efficacy endpoint for the interim analyses is the time to occurrence of second
primary tumors. The toxicity will be monitored constantly throughout the study. The
conduct of interim analyses and dissemination of the results of the interim analysis
will follow the TCOG Data and Safety Monitoring guidelines for confidentiality. The
TCOG Data and Safety Monitoring Committee will review the results of interim analyses
for a possible early termination of the trial.
Allocation: Randomized, Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment, Masking: Open Label, Primary Purpose: Treatment
134 patients for each of the two treatment arms are needed.
Li-Tzong Chen, Ph.D.
Hepatocellular Carcinoma Postoperative Adjuvant Therapy Disease Committee of TCOG
Taiwan: Department of Health