Avastin shown to slow ovarian cancer

A new international study shows that treating ovarian cancer with Avastin delays the disease progression and may improve survival.

The drug, generically called bevacizumab, seemed to keep the disease from returning for two months. It was delayed five to six months in the highest risk group.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, was co-led by Drs. Amit Oza of the Princess Margaret Cancer Program at the University of Toronto and Timothy Perren of the St James' Institute of Oncology in Leeds, U.K. The study began in 2004 and continues for another year.

“This is the first new drug in ovarian cancer in 15 years to improve outcome and I believe it should be considered as a potential new standard of care,” said Oza, a medical oncologist who leads the Cancer Clinical Research Unit at Princess Margaret Hospital.

The researchers studied more than 1,500 women at 263 centers. Avastin was added to their chemotherapy. It’s believed to starve the cancer by blocking the growth factors that promote new blood vessels in tumors. It’s also used for lung, breast, colon, kidney and brain cancer.

Researchers will try and determine if dosing for longer offer more benefits. A similar U.S. study also had positive results.

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