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Simvastatin in Preventing Liver Cancer in Patients with Liver Cirrhosis

Trial Status: Closed to Accrual

This randomized phase II trial studies how well simvastatin works in preventing liver cancer in patients with liver cirrhosis. Simvastatin may stop the growth of cancer cells by blocking some of the enzymes needed for cell growth.

Inclusion Criteria

  • Confirmed diagnosis of liver cirrhosis assessed by the presence of clinical signs, symptoms, body imaging (ultrasound, computed tomography [CT], or magnetic resonance imaging [MRI]), or liver biopsy
  • Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status =< 1 (Karnofsky >= 70%)
  • Leukocytes >= 2,500/microliter
  • Absolute neutrophil count >= 1,500/microliter
  • Platelets >= 50,000/microliter
  • Hemoglobin >= 8 g/dL
  • Total bilirubin =< 3 x institutional upper limit of normal (ULN)
  • Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) (serum glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase [SGOT])/alanine aminotransferase (ALT) (serum glutamate pyruvate transaminase [SGPT]) =< 5 x institutional ULN
  • Creatinine =< 1.5 x institutional ULN
  • Women who are able to become pregnant must have a confirmed negative pregnancy test result prior to enrollment; women >= 50 years of age who have not had a menstrual period in the past year; and women who have had a hysterectomy, both ovaries removed, or a tubal ligation; will not be required to have a pregnancy test
  • The effects of simvastatin on the developing human fetus at the recommended therapeutic dose are unknown; for this reason, women who are able to become pregnant must agree to use adequate contraception (hormonal or barrier method of birth control; abstinence) prior to study entry and for the duration of study participation; should a woman become pregnant or suspect she is pregnant while participating in this study, she should inform her study physician immediately
  • Ability to understand and the willingness to sign a written informed consent document and medical release
  • Willing and able to comply with trial protocol and follow-up
  • Have had an abdominal imaging test (CT, MRI, or ultrasound) within the past 18 months

Exclusion Criteria

  • Prior or current use of statin medication
  • Current systemic use of medications known to interact with statins and potentially increase toxicity, including gemfibrozil, cyclosporine, danazol, lomitapide, verapamil, diltiazem, dronedarone, amiodarone, amlodipine, ranolazine, strong CYP3A4 inhibitors (e.g., itraconazole, ketoconazole, posaconazole, voriconazole, human immunodeficiency virus [HIV] protease inhibitors, boceprevir, telaprevir, erythromycin, clarithromycin, telithromycin, nefazodone, or cobicistat-containing products), or strong CYP3A4 inducers (e.g., carbamazepine, phenytoin, rifampin, St. John’s wort, bosentan, efavirenz, etravirine, modafinil, nafcillin)
  • History of adverse effects, intolerance, or allergic reactions attributed to compounds of similar chemical or biologic composition to simvastatin (i.e., other statin medications)
  • Current use of any other investigational agents
  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding; pregnant women are excluded from this study because simvastatin is a lipid-lowering agent with the potential for teratogenic or abortifacient effects; it is not known whether simvastatin is excreted into human milk; however, a small amount of another drug in this class does pass into breast milk; because there is an unknown but potential risk for adverse events in nursing infants secondary to treatment of the mother with simvastatin, breastfeeding should be discontinued if the mother is treated with simvastatin
  • Prior liver transplant
  • Prior known or suspected hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Prior cholangiocarcinoma
  • Model for end-stage liver disease (MELD) > 20
  • Any lab results that do not meet inclusion criteria after the Screen 1 blood tests
  • Uncontrolled intercurrent illness including, but not limited to, ongoing or active infection, symptomatic congestive heart failure, unstable angina pectoris, cardiac arrhythmia, or psychiatric illness/social situations that would limit compliance with study requirements
  • History of chronic myopathy
  • Prior germ cell cancer
  • History of active malignancy within the past 5 years (excluding basal/squamous cell skin cancer or prostate cancer with a Gleason score 6 or less)
  • Known active infection with HIV
  • Medical contraindications to blood draw (e.g., hemophilia)
  • Concurrent illness which in the opinion of the investigators would compromise either the patient or the integrity of the data
  • Current excessive alcohol consumption (average alcohol consumption of more than 5 drinks per day)


Los Angeles
Cedars Sinai Medical Center
Status: ACTIVE
Contact: Marc T. Goodman
Phone: 310-423-6188

District of Columbia

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital
Status: ACTIVE
Contact: Aiwu Ruth He
Phone: 202-444-8642


Northwestern University
Contact: Seema Ahsan Khan
Phone: 312-503-4236

Puerto Rico

San Juan
Centro Comprensivo de Cancer de UPR
Status: ACTIVE
Contact: Marc T. Goodman
Phone: 310-423-6188
University of Puerto Rico
Status: ACTIVE
Contact: Marcia R. Cruz-Correa


I. To evaluate the effect of a simvastatin intervention versus placebo on the change in serum AFP-L3% from baseline to 6 months following treatment initiation in patients with liver cirrhosis who have a current model for end-stage liver disease (MELD) =< 20.


I. To evaluate the effect of a simvastatin intervention versus placebo at 6 months on the change in:

Ia. Serum AFP.

Ib. Serum IL-6.

Ic. Serum bile acid levels.

Id. Liver stiffness.

Ie. Fibrosis 4 index (FIB-4) score.

If. MELD score.

OUTLINE: Patients are randomized to 1 of 2 groups.

GROUP I: Patients receive simvastatin orally (PO) once daily (QD).

GROUP II: Patients receive placebo PO QD.

In both groups, treatment continues for up to 6 months in the absence of disease progression or unacceptable toxicity.

After completion of study treatment, patients are followed up at 30, 60, and 90 days.

Trial Phase Phase II

Trial Type Prevention

Lead Organization
Northwestern University

Principal Investigator
Marc T. Goodman

  • Primary ID NCI2015-06-03
  • Secondary IDs NCI-2016-01719, NWU2015-06-03, N01-CN-2012-00035
  • ID NCT02968810