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Avastin delays ovarian cancer progression

December 29, 2011 - Washington

A targeted drug therapy called bevacizumab (Avastin), when used in combination with existing treatments like chemotherapy delays progression of advanced Ovarian Cancer, a new study has suggested.

Targeted drugs, which block or disrupt particular molecules involved in the growth of Tumours, have been shown to be effective treatments against many types of cancer.

Patients with newly diagnosed advanced Ovarian Cancer now typically undergo surgery and chemotherapy, but a new phase 3 clinical trial conducted by the Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG) suggests an additional avenue of treatment.

"This approach can be looked upon as a third major component of treatment for Ovarian Cancer and related malignancies," said Robert A. Burger, MD, lead investigator on the GOG study and director of the Women's Cancer Center at Fox Chase Cancer Center.

"We've had the combination of surgical management and cytotoxic chemotherapy for many years, but we haven't really seen anything else in terms of a fundamental class of treatment. This represents a new way for us to control the disease."

The placebo-controlled study, which was sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, enrolled 1,873 patients with previously untreated advanced disease from 336 sites, primarily in the United States, but also in Canada, South Korea, and Japan.

The patients either had stage III Ovarian Cancer that could not be entirely removed with surgery, or stage IV disease, and were randomly assigned to one of three groups.

For patients who received bevacizumab with chemotherapy followed by bevacizumab for up to an additional 10 months, the median time until their cancer progressed was 14.1 months, compared to 10.3 months for patients in the control group, who received chemotherapy with a placebo and then continued with a placebo.

The net effect was a 28 percent reduction in the risk of disease of Ovarian Cancer progression over time. Patients who received bevacizumab only with chemotherapy, but not afterward, had a median progression-free survival of 11.2 months.

Bevacizumab is already FDA-approved for use against some types of colon, lung, kidney and brain cancers.he study has been recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.


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