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News » Filed under: Kidney Cancer

Avastin Approved for Kidney Cancer

Article date: August 12, 2009

By: Rebecca V. Snowden

Avastin (bevacizumab), manufactured by Genentech, was recently approved to treat the most common type of kidney cancer.

The FDA recently OKed Avastin plus interferon-alfa, an immunotherapy drug, for treating renal cell carcinoma that has spread to other parts of the body. The approval is based on results from a phase III study, which found the drug combination increased progression-free survival time (the time it takes for the cancer to start growing again) by about 5 months compared to taking interferon-alfa alone. The study wasn't able to determine whether people lived longer.

Tumor size decreased in 30% of patients taking the Avastin and interferon-alfa combination, compared to just 12% of patients taking interferon-alfa alone.

However, patients taking both Avastin and interferon-alpha were more likely to have severe side effects, including bleeding, high blood pressure, protein in the urine, fatigue, and weakness.

Avastin works by slowing the growth of new blood vessels. It blocks vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a protein that stimulates blood vessel growth.

Kidney cancer is the eighth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be about 57,760 new cases of kidney in the United States in 2009, and about 12,980 people will die from this disease.

Chemotherapy drugs have not been very effective against advanced kidney cancer. Targeted therapies are now usually the first-line option to treat kidney cancers that cannot be removed by surgery. Several targeted drugs, including Avastin, are now approved for use against kidney cancer, but it’s not clear if any one of these drugs is better than the others. Clinical trials are now under way to try to determine if combining these drugs, either with each other or with other types of treatment, might be better than using them alone.

"We hope that researchers someday find a cure for kidney cancer," said William P. Bro, chief executive officer of the Kidney Cancer Association. "Until then, each new medicine, like Avastin, offers patients an opportunity to find a treatment best suited to them."

Avastin is also approved to treat certain types of breast, lung, colon, and rectum cancers, as well as glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), a type of brain cancer. Genentech is also testing whether Avastin is effective against other types of cancer.

"During the last 5 years, Avastin has been approved by the FDA to treat 5 different types of cancer," said Hal Barron, MD, Genentech executive vice president, global development and chief medical officer. "We aim to help more people facing difficult-to-treat cancers and will continue studying Avastin in more than 30 other tumor types."


Reviewed by: Members of the ACS Medical Content Staff

ACS News Center stories are provided as a source of cancer-related news and are not intended to be used as press releases.

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