Avastin May Delay Progression of Ovarian Cancer

Posted on February 26th, 2010 by

Among women with advanced ovarian cancer, treatment with a combination of Avastin® (bevacizumab) and chemotherapy, followed by maintenance treatment with Avastin, may result in better progression-free survival than chemotherapy alone. Initial results of this Phase III clinical trial were made available in a press release from Genentech; full results will be presented at a future medical meeting.

Ovarian cancer has the highest mortality rate of all gynecologic cancers. It is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women, with an estimated 21,550 new cases and 14,600 deaths in 2009.

Treatment for ovarian cancer commonly involves surgery and/or chemotherapy. Outcomes for women diagnosed with advanced disease remain poor, and researchers continue to evaluate new approaches to treatment.

Avastin is a targeted therapy that blocks a protein known as VEGF. VEGF plays a key role in the development of new blood vessels. By blocking VEGF, Avastin deprives the cancer of nutrients and oxygen and inhibits its growth. Avastin has been approved for the treatment of selected patients with breast cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, kidney cancer, or glioblastoma.

To evaluate the combination of Avastin and chemotherapy among women with ovarian cancer, researchers conducted a Phase III clinical trial among 1,873 women with newly diagnosed, advanced epithelial ovarian cancer, primary peritoneal cancer, or fallopian tube cancer.

After surgery to remove as much of the cancer as possible, study participants were assigned to one of three treatment groups:

  1. Chemotherapy alone
  2. Chemotherapy plus Avastin with no maintenance therapy
  3. Chemotherapy plus Avastin with Avastin maintenance therapy (for a total of up to 15 months of treatment)

Chemotherapy consisted of carboplatin and paclitaxel.

Maintenance therapy refers to ongoing treatment after the initial treatment is completed.

The results indicated that women assigned to group 3 (chemotherapy plus Avastin followed by Avastin maintenance therapy) remained free of cancer progression long than women in group 1 (chemotherapy alone).

Women assigned to group 2 (chemotherapy plus Avastin but no maintenance therapy) did not have better outcomes than group 1 (chemotherapy alone).

Full results from this study, including information about serious side effects, will be presented at an upcoming medical meeting.

Reference: Genentech Press Release. Genentech Announces Positive Results of Avastin Phase III Study in Women with Advanced Ovarian Cancer. Available at: http://www.gene.com/gene/news/press-releases/display.do?method=detail&id=12647 Accessed February 25, 2010.

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