FDA OKs Drug for Advanced Lung Cancer
Avastin Already Approved for Treating Colorectal Cancer
WebMD News Archive
Oct. 12, 2006 -- The FDA has approved the colon cancer drug Avastin for use
with chemotherapy in treating advanced lung cancer.
Avastin may now be used with the chemo drugs carboplatin and paclitaxel as
an initial treatment for advanced cases of non-squamous, non-small cell lung
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for U.S. men and women.
Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common type of lung cancer. It
accounts for three out of four of the 174,400 new cases of lung cancer that are
expected to be diagnosed this year, according to the FDA.
"[The] FDA believes it is crucial for cancer patients to have many
treatment options available to them in their battle against this disease,"
says the FDA's Richard Pazdur, MD, in the FDA news release.
"With the approval of Avastin, patients with this type of lung cancer
will not only have access to another treatment option, but one that has been
shown in clinical trials to increase survival time," Pazdur says.
Avastin Starves Tumors
Avastin, which is given intravenously, is not a new drug.
The FDA first approved it in February 2004 for use in combination with
chemotherapy to treat metastatic colorectal cancer (cancer that has spread beyond
the colon or rectum).
Avastin is believed to target a growth factor called VEGF (vascular
endothelial growth factor). By blocking the action of VEGF, Avastin hampers the
growth of new blood vessels that bring blood to tumors.
Basically, the strategy is to deprive tumors of their blood supply, thereby
starving them. Such drugs are called angiogenesis inhibitors.
Avastin is made by Genentech.
Avastin plus chemotherapy "is the first therapy in 10 years to improve
on standard first-line treatment for advanced lung cancer and the first FDA
approved therapy ever to extend survival for these patients beyond one year in
a large, randomized clinical study," Alan Sandler, MD, says in Genentech's
Sandler headed the study upon which the FDA based Avastin's new approval. He
is the director of medical thoracic oncology at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center
in Nashville, Tenn.