studies continue with Avastin (bevacizumab) for treatment of metastatic breast cancer

While the focus on Avastin® (bevacizumab) over the recent months has been on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) withdrawal of approval for the drug as treatment for advanced breast cancer, the critical points of reference rested on the failure to achieve both standards for successful treatment: increased progression-free survival and increased overall survival. Because bevacizumab failed to achieve significant results in the first, PFS, and insufficient data do not indicate results supporting OS, the FDA withdrew its preliminary approval for the drug. It remains on the market, however, as viable treatment for other cancers and, consequently, is also still available for off-label use for cases of metastatic breast cancer that warrant its use.Recent studies conducted at the Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, however, have indicated a reason for the failure of bevacizumab, and, in particular, for the sharp relapse of some patients after treatment ends with bevacizumab. As you may recall, bevacizumab is an antiangiogenic disease: it slows the production of blood vessels in cancer tumors, thereby cutting off the necessary blood supply required by the tumor to grow. What this process causes, however, is an increase in the tumor’s stem cells.Consequently, further studies with bevacizumab may include combining it with other drugs that inhibit growth of cancer stem cells. By blocking two potent cancer growth mechanisms it may be possible to achieve both standards of measure for advanced cancer treatment, significant increase in PFS and significant increase in OS.

Breast Cancer Survival – Why Avastin And Sutent Don’t Help. By Christian Nordqvist. In Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 26 Jan. 2012. Web. 12 Feb. 2012.

Sarah J. Conley, Elizabeth Gheordunescu, Pramod Kakarala, Bryan Newman, Hasan Korkaya, Amber N. Heath, Shawn G. Clouthier, and Max S. Wicha. Antiangiogenic agents increase breast cancer stem cells via the generation of tumor hypoxia, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (early edition) (PNAS) 1-23-2012, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1018866109.

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© 2004–2012 Donna Peach. All rights reserved.

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One response to “studies continue with Avastin (bevacizumab) for treatment of metastatic breast cancer

  1. Excellent! Thanks for a clear explanation of what is happening with this chemotherapeutic agent!

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