Avastin Found to Be Ineffective in Treating Ovarian Cancer

The drug Avastin, which has been used to treat several forms of cancer, has been found to cause terrible side effects and is ineffective in prolonging the life of patients who use the drug.

According to CBSnews.com, Avastin- medically known as bevacizumab- has been used to treat colon, lung, kidney, and brain cancer and has recently been found by two studies to barely lengthen the life of ovarian cancer patients.

This report comes just as the drug was approved for use on ovarian cancer in Europe.

One study was led by a gynecologic oncologist at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, and the other by British researchers.

The Fox Chase Center discovered that for women with advanced ovarian cancer given one of three treatment combinations- including chemotherapy and Avastin- the time until the disease worsened was approximately 10 months. Those given just chemotherapy and adding Avastin only increased the time by one to four months for most of the study’s 1900 participants.

The other study found the drug lengthened patients’ time for only one to two months longer than other treatments such as chemotherapy alone. Also, there were more instances of high blood pressure with the Avastin treatment.

This means differences were relatively slight with or without Avastin, according to the studies.

Results of both studies can be found in the Dec. 29 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"The bottom-line results are a 28 percent reduction in disease progression with patients on continued bevacizumab compared to the standard treatment group. There was a 3.8 month median difference in progression-free survival," said Dr. Robert Burger, who led the study at the Women's Cancer Center at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia according to HealthDay.

Healthday also adds that Avastin may elongate “progression-free survival” by approximately four months for ovarian cancer patients, but it isn't yet clear that adding Avastin will make a difference in overall survival.

Avastin has not been approved in the United States to treat ovarian cancer.