Avastin® Approved for Initial Treatment of Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer

Avastin® Approved for Initial Treatment of Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Avastin® (bevacizumab) for use in combination with Paraplatin® (carboplatin) and Taxol® (paclitaxel) as initial therapy for advanced non–small cell lung cancer.

Lung cancer kills more people every year in the United States than breast, prostate, colon, kidney, and liver cancers combined. Lung cancer is responsible for over one-third of cancer deaths in this country. Non–small cell lung (NSCLC) accounts for approximately 75% of all lung cancer. “Non–small cell “refers to the type of cell within the lung where the cancer originated.

Locally advanced or metastatic NSCLC refers to cancer that has spread from its site of origin to different sites in the body. Standard treatment for more advanced NSCLC often consists of a combination of chemotherapy agents with or without radiation or targeted therapy.

Avastin belongs to a class of drugs called monoclonal antibodies. Avastin produces its anticancer effects by targeting vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and preventing the interaction of VEGF with its receptors to reduce the growth and spread of cancer cells.

VEGF, a type of protein, is important in a process leading to cellular growth, replication, and spread and to new blood vessel formation. Avastin binds to VEGF and reduces its normal activity. It lessens the growth and spread of cancer cells by inhibiting the growth of new blood vessels, making it harder for the tumor to grow.

The E4599 trial prompted FDA approval of Avastin for the treatment of lung cancer. The trial included 878 patients with locally advanced, metastatic, recurrent, or inoperable NSCLC. One group of patients was treated with Avastin plus Paraplatin and Taxol and another group of patients received Paraplatin/Taxol only as initial therapy.

  • One year survival rates were 51% for patients treated with Avastin plus chemotherapy, compared with 44% for those treated with chemotherapy only.

Genentech has announced that it will initiate a program to cap the costs of Avastin to $55,000.00 per year, regardless of insurance status, to eligible patients.

Patients diagnosed with advanced or inoperable NSCLC may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of treatment including Avastin.

Reference: Genentech. FDA Approves Avastin in Combination With Chemotherapy for First-Line Treatment of Most Common Type of LungCancer.Availableat:http://www.gene.com/gene/news/press-releases/display.do?method=detail&id=10107. Accessed October 2006.

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