Roche has announced positive data from its Phase III IMbrave150 study of Tecentriq (atezolizumab) and Avastin (bevacizumab) in unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) – the most common type of primary liver cancer.

The pharma giant presented the results at the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Asia Congress 2019, demonstrating statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvements in overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS), compared with sorafenib (sold as Nexavar by Bayer).

Further, the data showed that the combo reduced the risk of death (OS) by 42% as well as reducing the risk of disease worsening or death (PFS) by 41%, and the safety profile was consistent with the known profiles of the individual medicines.

“For the first time in a decade, we are seeing a treatment that has improved overall survival for people with unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma compared with the current standard of care,” said Levi Garraway, chief medical officer and head of global product development. He went on to say that Tecentriq in combination with Avastin could “transform the treatment of this aggressive disease” and that the company is “working closely with global health authorities in the hope of bringing this treatment option to patients as soon as possible.”

Earlier this year a study published in UEG Journal found that poor oral health is associated with a 75% increased risk of hepatocellular carcinoma. The study, by researchers at Queen’s University Belfast, analysed a large cohort of over 469,000 people in the UK, investigating the association between oral health conditions and the risk of a number of gastrointestinal cancers, including liver, colon, rectum and pancreatic cancer.

Whilst no significant associations were observed on the risk of the majority gastrointestinal cancers and poor oral health, a substantial link was found for hepatobiliary cancer.

The disease is an aggressive cancer with limited treatment options and is a major cause of cancer deaths worldwide, with over 750,000 people worldwide diagnosed every year.