Among patients with advanced colorectal cancer, the addition of Avastin® (bevacizumab) to chemotherapy improves overall and progression-free survival but also increases side effects. These results were published in the Annals of Oncology.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Treatment of advanced colorectal cancer often involves combination chemotherapy.
Avastin is a targeted therapy that blocks a protein known as VEGF. VEGF plays a key role in the development of new blood vessels. By blocking VEGF, Avastin deprives the cancer of nutrients and oxygen and inhibits its growth. Avastin’s effects on blood vessels may also improve the delivery of chemotherapy to the tumor. Avastin has been approved for the treatment of selected patients with several types of cancer, including colorectal cancer.
To summarize available information about Avastin in advanced colorectal cancer, researchers evaluated information from five clinical trials. The studies compared chemotherapy plus Avastin to chemotherapy alone for first- or second-line treatment.
- The addition of Avastin to chemotherapy improved overall survival by 21% and improved progression-free survival by 37%.
- The most common side effects related to Avastin included high blood pressure, protein in the urine, bleeding, and blood clots.
The results of this review confirm that the addition of Avastin to chemotherapy improves overall survival and delays cancer progression among patients with advanced colorectal cancer. Avastin also, however, increases the occurrence of side effects.
The researchers note that the benefit of Avastin may vary depending on the specific chemotherapy regimen that is used.
Reference: Welch S, Spithoff K, Rumble RB et al. Bevacizumab combined with chemotherapy for patients with advanced colorectal cancer: a systematic review. Annals of Oncology [early online publication]. November 25, 2009.
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