New Light for Ovarian and Reproductive Cancers

Avastin improves ovarian cancer treatment

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Treatment options for ovarian and reproductive system cancers are currently somewhat limited. Researchers have opened new doors and hope.

Two recent studies have shown that Avastin (bevacizumab) is effective in treating both newly diagnosed and recurrent (comes back after treatment) ovarian cancer, as well as two other cancers of the reproductive system.

Avastin works as targeted therapy that zeros in on a cancer's specific genes, proteins or the tissue environment that helps the cancer grow or survive.

"Ask your oncologist if Avastin is right for you."

One of the studies known as the OCEANS trial found that Avastin helped women with recurrent ovarian cancer live about four months longer than women who had only had chemotherapy.

Additionally, chemotherapy plus Avastin shrunk tumors in 79 percent of participants. This compares to tumor shrinkage in 57 precent of women who received only chemotherapy.

The other study called ICON7 involved 1,528 women with newly-diagnosed, high-risk or advanced epithelial ovarian, primary peritoneal or fallopian tube cancers. The two groups of participants received chemotherapy alone or chemotherapy plus Avastin, followed by the medication alone for 12 months.

Avastin was also found to reduce the risk of dying from the high risk cancers. After about two years, women who took the medication to treat a cancer that's likely to return were 36 percent less likely to die from the disease than women who had only had chemotherapy.

So these studies, conducted by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City (OCEANS) and Norwegian Radium Hospital (ICON7) found that Avastin can be an effective treatment for various stages of ovarian, primary peritoneal and fallopian tube cancers.

An estimated 21,880 women in the United States will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It is estimated that 13,850 deaths from this disease will occur this year.

Avastin may only be available as a treatment for ovarian cancer in clinical trials.

Findings from these studies were presented at the 2011 American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting.

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Review Date: 
June 17, 2011
Last Updated:
June 18, 2011