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Avastin May Help Treat Ovarian Cancer

Study Shows Avastin May Reduce the Risk of Cancer Progression in Ovarian Cancer Patients

Avastin Side Effects continued...

The women haven't been followed for long enough to know if long-term Avastin therapy extends lives.

The researchers have gathered data on Avastin's effect on quality on life, but the results are not ready.

So should doctors be recommending Avastin to their advanced ovarian cancer patents?

Given that cancer worsened in women on chemotherapy alone within about 10 months, "a shift to 14 months is clinically meaningful for patients," Burger tells WebMD. "This should be considered one standard option."

But Karen Lu, MD, professor of gynecologic cancers at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Medical Center in Houston, tells WebMD that until doctors know how Avastin affects quality of life and whether it extends lives, "we don't have enough data to call it a standard of care."

For now, "each woman and her doctor will have to decide whether coming in for an IV infusion every three weeks, for an additional four months, is worth" a four-month gain in terms of stalling cancer progression, she says.

Burger notes that women who received chemotherapy prior to surgery for advanced ovarian cancer weren't included in the study. "We haven't established its safety for such patients yet," he says.

Although Avastin isn't approved for ovarian cancer, doctors can prescribe it "off-label," Burger says. When used for approved cancers, it generally costs several thousand dollars a month.

A spokesperson for Genentech, maker of the drug, says the company hopes to use the study results to seek FDA approval for use in ovarian cancer.

About 22,000 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed this year, and about 15,000 women will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.

This study was presented at a medical conference. The findings should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

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