Avastin Prolongs Life of Colorectal Cancer Patients

Colorectal cancer responds to Avastin plus second line chemotherapy

(RxWiki News) Treating colorectal cancer that has spread to other sites involves a combination of chemotherapies. One regimen that's been in use has been proven to extend life and is likely to become the standard of care.

A phase III trial has found that continued use of Avastin (bevacizumab), along with different first- and second-line chemotherapies, prevents the disease from progressing by 1.6 months longer than traditional therapy.

This research also indicates that people using Avastin lived with advanced colorectal cancer another 1.4 months.

"Ask your doctor the exact benefits of all therapies you're taking."

The results were presented at the 48th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

The drug also expanded the time before the disease began to advance again, known as progress-free survival.

“These findings confirm what many physicians and researchers have long suspected – that extended bevacizumab treatment provides meaningful benefits for patients with advanced colorectal cancer, without adding significant side effects,” said Dirk Arnold, MD, Director of the Hubertus Wald Tumor Center in Hamburg, Germany.

He continued, "By simply switching chemotherapy drugs when the cancer progresses and continuing with bevacizumab, we can make second-line treatment even more powerful."

For the study, 820 patients with inoperable metastatic colorectal cancer were treated with one of two types of standard first-line chemotherapy, along with Avastin.

When the disease progressed, patients were randomly selected to receive the other type of chemo with either Avastin or a placebo.

Researchers found that those receiving bevacizumab + chemo lived 11.2 months, compared to 9.8 months for patients who received chemotherapy alone.

Progression-free survival was 5.7 vs. 4.1 months among patients who received Avastin.

Side effects were were well tolerated.

Avastin is manufactured by Genentech, a division of Roche. The drug costs about $88,000 a year.

All research is considered preliminary before it's published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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Review Date: 
June 2, 2012