Adding cancer drug Avastin to chemotherapy helps slow progression of ovarian cancer, according to a new study.
Avastin is designed to shut down blood vessels that fuel tumour growth. It is licensed and can be prescribed in the UK for cancers like lung, bowel, breast and kidney.
But since Avastin has not yet been approved for use on the NHS by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), it is not widely available for NHS patients without health insurance.
Roche, the makers of Avastin, has now sponsored four clinical trials testing the drug for use in treating ovarian cancer.
The latest study, presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting in Chicago, involved 361 patients who had not responded to platinum-based chemotherapy.
All the patients were treated with a different type of chemotherapy, and half also received Avastin. The patients were followed for 13.5 months.
Researchers found that 75 per cent of the patients who received Avastin and chemotherapy had a cancer recurrence, compared to 91 per cent of patients receiving just chemotherapy.
The average time before the cancer started growing again after treatment became was 6.7 months in the Avastin group compared to 3.4 months.
Data on overall survival has not matured but is expected next year.
However, side effects such as high blood pressure and gastrointestinal perforations were greater in the Avastin group.
The study's lead author, Eric Pujade-Lauraine, the head of the Group d'Investigateurs Nationaux pour l'Etude des Cancers Ovariens, said the study findings are important because is the first time an improvement has been shown using a combination of drugs in women with platinum-resistant ovarian cancer.
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012