Avastin Produces Results in Chemo-Resistant Ovarian Cancer

To tackle platinum-resistant ovarian cancer, a French research group added Avastin (bevacizumab) to standard chemotherapy.

Although most cases of ovarian cancer respond to paclitaxel or other platinum-based chemotherapies, about 20 percent of cancers continue to progress with initial treatment while other cases later become resistant. To tackle these platinum-resistant cancers, a French research group examined adding Avastin (bevacizumab), which cuts off the blood supply to growing tumors, to standard chemotherapy in women whose cancers progressed within six months of their final dose of platinum therapy.

Participants were given either Taxol, Doxil (liposomal doxorubicin) or topotecan, depending on the physician’s choice of treatment, while half also received Avastin. After about a year of follow-up, researchers found Avastin significantly delayed time to disease progression. Median time of survival without the disease progressing was 6.7 months with Avastin compared with 3.4 months without. The benefit was seen across all subgroups, including age, size of tumor and type of chemotherapy. Although Avastin appeared to work well against this subset of ovarian cancer, it also increased side effects, including high blood pressure, proteinuria (abnormal amount of protein found in urine) and rare cases of perforations in the intestines. Overall survival data are expected in 2013.

The drug’s maker may be proceeding cautiously before submitting Avastin in ovarian cancer to the FDA. Avastin’s approval in metastatic breast cancer was revoked last year after a follow-up trial found that the drug did not prolong survival but added side effects.