FDA Approves Avastin for Advanced Ovarian Cancer

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Avastin (bevacizumab) as a treatment for ovarian cancer. It’s intended to be used in combination with chemotherapy in women who have advanced ovarian cancer that has come back after previous treatment. Avastin is a targeted therapy that helps block the signal that cancer cells send out to cause new blood vessels to form to nourish new tumors.

The FDA based its approval on a trial that compared chemotherapy alone with chemotherapy combined with Avastin. The trial involved 361 women whose ovarian cancer had come back less than 6 months after their last course of chemotherapy.

In the study, the women who received chemo plus Avastin had a significant improvement in progression-free survival. Their tumors shrank or stopped growing for a period that was about 3 months longer than the women who received chemo alone. However, the Avastin-chemo combination did not seem to help women live longer.

Avastin is also used to treat colon, kidney, cervical, and non-small cell lung cancer, and certain brain tumors. It’s given as an infusion through a vein.

The most common side effects in women who received Avastin along with chemotherapy were infection, nerve damage, and high blood pressure. Also, there have been problems with patients developing holes in the bowel wall (perforations) during treatment. Although this complication is rare, it can be fatal.

Avastin is marketed by Genentech, Inc.

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