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Avastin improves chemotherapy success.

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A new cancer treatment improves chemotherapy in people with advanced colon cancer.

The new treatment is called Avastin, (formerly called anti-VEGF) the first of a new kind of cancer therapy. Conventional chemotherapy purely kills fast-growing cells, including cancer cells and normal cells. Avastin works by preventing tumours from growing new blood vessels. This starves the tumour and slows or even stops its growth. UCLA researcher Fairooz Kabbinavar, MD, studied the drug in patients with metastatic colon cancer. “This study could give us a less toxic and a more effective weapon in our growing arsenal of cancer therapies,” Kabbinavar says in a news release. All 104 patients in the study received standard chemotherapy with fluorouracil and leucovorin. Two thirds of them also received a high or low dose of Avastin. Those who received Avastin did much better than those treated with chemotherapy alone. “The patients who got Avastin and chemotherapy did better in all the parameters we use to measure efficacy,” Kabbinavar said. Patients who received chemotherapy as well as a dose of Avastin, kept their cancer from progressing for nine months. Whereas patients who received chemotherapy alone, only kept their cancer from progressing for five months. Low-dose Avastin patients were also more than twice as likely to respond to chemotherapy.Researchers are unsure why the lower dose of Avastin is more effective. Kabbinavar and colleagues suggest that the higher dose collapsed the tumours but did not kill them. The lower dose shrank the tumours but left their blood vessels working well enough to let in a lethal dose of chemo. Avastin however can have very serious side effects. A treated patient died from a blood clot; several other patients also had blood-clotting events. Other safety concerns included high blood pressure and nosebleed. A larger Avastin clinical trial with 1,000 patients has already. Results are expected sometime next year. These findings will help determine whether Avastin is ready for widespread use.

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Posted On: 24 January, 2003
Modified On: 3 December, 2013


Created by: myVMC