Avastin Useful in Treating Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer progression delayed with Avastin

(RxWiki News) The main goal in treating ovarian cancer is preventing or delaying it from getting worse. A drug that's been controversial in treating advanced breast cancer shows promise in treating ovarian cancer.

Avastin has been shown in an international trial to delay the return of ovarian cancer by two months. For women in with the highest risk disease, that delay was five to six months.

This drug also may extend the lives of women living with ovarian cancer.

"Ask your oncologist about all available medications."

The ongoing seven-year international clinical trial was directed by Amit Oza, M.D. of the Princess Margaret Cancer Program, University Health Network and Timothy Perren, M.D. with St James's Institute of Oncology in Leeds, UK.

Begun in 2004, the involved 1,528 women with ovarian cancer at 263 centers around the world. The study regimen included adding Avastin to chemotherapy treatment. The drug was given intravenously every three weeks for 12 months.

Dr. Oza, a medical oncologist who leads the Cancer Clinical Research Unit at Princess Margaret Hospital, said in a news release announcing the findings, ""This is the first new drug in ovarian cancer in 15 years to improve outcome and I believe it should be considered as a potential new standard of care."

Avastin starves the cancer to death by blocking the formation of new blood vessels that feed the tumors. While not a cure, the drug does delay the advancement of the disease.

Avastin is also used to delay disease progression in brain, breast, colorectal, kidney and lung cancers.

Now that it's been demonstrated to improve the outlook for patients for short periods of time, Dr. Oza says further research is needed to see if giving the drug for even longer would enhance its benefits.

A U.S. has reported much the same results. The big difference in the two studies was dosage. Women in the American study received twice as much Avastin as participants in the international trial did.

Dr. Oza says dosing will need to be investigated further as well. This study will continue to be analyzed until 2013.

Findings from this research were published December 28, 2011 in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Review Date: 
December 28, 2011