Phase II study of megestrol acetate in the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma

Yee Chao, Wing Kai Chan, Sun Sang Wang, Kwok Hung Lai, Chin Wen Chi, Ching Yuang Lin, Ann Chan, Jacqueline Whang-Peng, Wing Yiu Lui, Shou Dong Lee

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26 Citations (Scopus)


This is a report of a phase II study of megestrol acetate (160 mg/day, orally) in the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Forty-six patients with advanced HCC were studied and tumour response, changes in appetite, bodyweight, a feeling of well-being, survival and toxicity were evaluated. Thirty-two patients were able to be evaluated for response; there were no complete responders or partial responders. Twelve patients (38%) had stable disease and seven of these patients had a minor response with a median size reduction in the tumour of 18%. Twenty patients (62%) had progressive disease. Five of 24 (21%) patients had a median reduction in α-fetoprotein levels of 59 ng/mL. The overall median survival was 4 months (range 1 week to 27 months). Twenty of 32 (62%) patients had an increased appetite and feeling of well-being. Fourteen of 22 (64%) patients had a median lean bodyweight gain of 5 kg (range 1-14 kg). Toxicities were minimal. Tests for glucocorticoid receptors were performed in 10 patients. Four of five patients who were positive for glucocorticoid receptors in the tumour had a stable disease and all five patients who were negative for glucocorticoid receptors had progressive disease. Megestrol acetate had no significant effect on the tumour in HCC patients. However, megestrol acetate is useful in the palliative management of HCC patients, with improvements in appetite, bodyweight and a feeling of well-being with minimal side effects. Some patients had stable disease, a minor reduction of tumour size and a prolonged survival after megestrol acetate treatment and this response may be related to the presence of glucocorticoid receptors in the HCC tumour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-281
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology (Australia)
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • hepatocellular carcinoma
  • hormonal therapy
  • megestrol acetate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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