Summary Background No treatment options are available for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer that progresses after all approved standard therapies, but many patients maintain a good performance status and could be candidates for further therapy. An international phase 3 trial was done to assess the multikinase inhibitor regorafenib in these patients. Methods We did this trial at 114 centres in 16 countries. Patients with documented metastatic colorectal cancer and progression during or within 3 months after the last standard therapy were randomised (in a 2:1 ratio; by computer-generated randomisation list and interactive voice response system; preallocated block design (block size six); stratified by previous treatment with VEGF-targeting drugs, time from diagnosis of metastatic disease, and geographical region) to receive best supportive care plus oral regorafenib 160 mg or placebo once daily, for the first 3 weeks of each 4 week cycle. The primary endpoint was overall survival. The study sponsor, participants, and investigators were masked to treatment assignment. Efficacy analyses were by intention to treat. This trial is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01103323. Findings Between April 30, 2010, and March 22, 2011, 1052 patients were screened, 760 patients were randomised to receive regorafenib (n=505) or placebo (n=255), and 753 patients initiated treatment (regorafenib n=500; placebo n=253; population for safety analyses). The primary endpoint of overall survival was met at a preplanned interim analysis; data cutoff was on July 21, 2011. Median overall survival was 6·4 months in the regorafenib group versus 5·0 months in the placebo group (hazard ratio 0·77; 95% CI 0·64–0·94; one-sided p=0·0052). Treatment-related adverse events occurred in 465 (93%) patients assigned regorafenib and in 154 (61%) of those assigned placebo. The most common adverse events of grade three or higher related to regorafenib were hand-foot skin reaction (83 patients, 17%), fatigue (48, 10%), diarrhoea (36, 7%), hypertension (36, 7%), and rash or desquamation (29, 6%). Interpretation Regorafenib is the first small-molecule multikinase inhibitor with survival benefits in metastatic colorectal cancer which has progressed after all standard therapies. The present study provides evidence for a continuing role of targeted treatment after disease progression, with regorafenib offering a potential new line of therapy in this treatment-refractory population.
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