The prognosis of patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is very poor. The outcome of these patients is particularly bleak when the disease is complicated by portal vein tumor thrombosis (PVTT), since the increased portal pressure often causes serious gastrointestinal bleedings. Before the introduction of sorafenib (SOR), a tyrosine kinase inhibitor, no effective treatment was available for patients with advanced disease. SOR is now considered the standard treatment even for patients with tumor thrombosis, although the well-known interference between tyrosine kinase inhibitors and the coagulation pathway calls for caution against their use in this setting. Here, we report the case of a 74-year-old male patient with advanced HCC and PVTT treated with sunitinib (SUN), another multikinase inhibitor. During the third cycle, our patient experienced a life-threatening hematemesis with hemorrhagic shock that required intensive care treatment and SUN discontinuation. However, he completely recovered, and the PET/CT scan performed 1 year after the adverse effect demonstrated no evidence of the tumor together with portal vein recanalization. The short course of SUN causing both tumor response and gastrointestinal bleeding warrants further studies on the effectiveness of SUN in this setting as well as on the duration of treatment with multikinase inhibitors in patients with tumor thrombosis.
- hepatocellular carcinoma
- portal vein