Background: Sorafenib and sunitinib are tyrosine kinase inhibitors with largely overlapping specificities, approved for the treatment of metastatic renal-cell carcinoma (RCC). It was unclear whether the similarities of the two drugs would lead to complete cross-resistance, or whether sequential application would be efficacious. Methods: Patients with metastatic RCC and progression on sorafenib treatment were treated with repeated cycles of sunitinib, 50 mg for 4 weeks, followed by a 2-week break. Response (Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors, RECIST) was assessed every second cycle. Results: A total of 22 patients with progression on sorafenib were accrued. Initially, sorafenib treatment was efficacious in all patients, with 7 showing partial response (PR) and 15 stable disease (SD), and subsequent disease progression. With 4 PRs (18%) and 12 SD (55%) a disease control rate of 73% was achieved. The median progression-free survival (PFS) on sunitinib was 21.5 weeks; median overall survival (OS) was not reached. Estimated 1-year PFS and OS were 31 and 60%, respectively. There was no apparent relationship between response to sorafenib and outcome on sunitinib. Conclusion: In our cohort of patients with RCC and progression after initial efficacy of sorafenib, the efficacy data of second-line sunitinib were close to published results of first-line treatment, suggesting limited clinically relevant cross-resistance.

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