Bevacizumab

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Bevacizumab

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Generic NameBrand Name
bevacizumabAvastin

How It Works

Bevacizumab belongs to a group of drugs known as monoclonal antibodies. It blocks a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) that helps cancer cells grow and multiply. Bevacizumab inhibits the ability of the cancer to form and grow new blood vessels. Bevacizumab is an intravenous (IV) drug.

Why It Is Used

Bevacizumab is used to treat cancer, including colorectal and lung cancers. It is also used for brain tumours and kidney cancer. Bevacizumab may be used to treat cancers that are continuing to grow despite other treatment (treatment-resistant), cancers that have spread to other organs (metastasized), or cancers that have come back (recurrent).

How Well It Works

Bevacizumab seems to slow down tumour growth with some cancers when added to other medicines used in chemotherapy. This helps people with metastatic or recurrent cancer live a little longer.1

Studies are being done to find the most effective combinations of medicines with bevacizumab for chemotherapy. Researchers are also looking to find the best ways to use bevacizumab with surgery or radiation.

Bevacizumab combined with carboplatin and paclitaxel has been shown to help people with advanced non–small-cell lung cancer live longer.2

Side Effects

Bevacizumab can cause serious side effects, including:

  • Holes in the colon (perforation) that may require surgical repair.
  • Bleeding in the lungs, when the medicine is used with chemotherapy for lung cancer.
  • Stroke.
  • Heart failure.
  • Blood clots.

Other side effects can include:

  • Delayed wound healing.
  • Kidney damage.
  • High blood pressure (hypertension).
  • Headache.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Mouth sores.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Weakness and fatigue.

Bevacizumab and other medicines that block vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) may cause high blood pressure.3 Your doctor will check and closely watch your blood pressure, especially when you first start taking bevacizumab.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Bevacizumab should be administered only under the supervision of a medical oncologist.

Bevacizumab may cause birth defects. Do not use this medicine if you are pregnant or wish to become pregnant or father a child while you are taking it.

Bevacizumab has been approved for use only by adults. There is no specific information comparing use of bevacizumab in children with use in other age groups.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

References

Citations

  1. Libutti SK, et al. (2008). Colon cancer. In VT DeVita Jr et al., eds., DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg's Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology, 8th ed., vol. 1, pp. 1232–1285. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
  2. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2006). FDA approves new combination therapy for lung cancer. FDA News. Available online: http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2006/NEW01488.html.
  3. Maitland ML, et al. (2010). Initial assessment, surveillance, and management of blood pressure in patients receiving vascular endothelial growth factor signaling pathway inhibitors. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 102(9): 596–604.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Arvydas D. Vanagunas, MD - Gastroenterology
Last Revised November 1, 2010

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