Cabozantinib (Cabometyx) as first-line treatment of advanced renal cell cancer

In 2018, the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany) wanted to find out whether cabozantinib (trade name: Cabometyx) used as first-line treatment has any advantages or disadvantages for adults with advanced renal cell cancer when compared with the current standard treatments. The manufacturer provided one on-going study that provided at least preliminary answers to some questions.

Renal cell cancer can develop in very different ways: Experts try to predict how the disease will progress as precisely as possible to tell whether a patient is at good, intermediate, or poor risk. Most of the 157 participants in this study were at intermediate risk.

Half of the patients received cabozantinib, and the other half had treatment with sunitinib. The study showed the following results for these patients:

What are the advantages of cabozantinib?

Life expectancy: Some people with advanced renal cell cancer have higher than normal levels of a protein in the tumor tissue called hepatocyte growth factor receptor, which can be detected immunohistochemically (MET-IHC). The study suggests that cabozantinib has a disadvantage for these people. After 16 months, about half of the people who received sunitinib were still alive. Of those patients who received cabozantinib, half survived for at least 26 months.

There was no difference in other patients.

Serious side effects: The study suggests that cabozantinib has an advantage for women here: Severe side effects occurred in them after about 9 months (median value), while in women who received sunitinib this was the case after about a month already. 

There was no difference here in men: Both groups experienced severe side effects after about 2 to 3 months.

No differences

There was no discernible difference in treatments stopped due to side effects between the treatments.

What remains unanswered?

The manufacturer didn't provide any suitable data about symptoms of the disease and health-related quality of life.

Cabozantinib (renal cell carcinoma) – Benefit assessment according to §35a Social Code Book V. Dossier assessment; Commission A18-37. c (IQWiG reports; Volume 664).

IQWiG health information is written with the aim of helping people understand the advantages and disadvantages of the main treatment options and health care services.

Because IQWiG is a German institute, some of the information provided here is specific to the German health care system. The suitability of any of the described options in an individual case can be determined by talking to a doctor. can provide support for talks with doctors and other medical professionals, but cannot replace them. We do not offer individual consultations.

Our information is based on the results of good-quality studies. It is written by a team of health care professionals, scientists and editors, and reviewed by external experts. You can find a detailed description of how our health information is produced and updated in our methods.

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Created on October 4, 2018
Next planned update: 2021


Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany)

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