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Avastin and its role in cancer treatments

Avastin — What does it set out to accomplish in cancer treatments as a drug? What is its success rate in cancer treatments? Are there any possible side effects I should be aware of?

Is this drug viable for each patient and every kind of cancer? Is the usage of Avastin really the best course of action for treatment? Is the effect of the use of chemotherapy the same as that of Avastin?

This article will answer your questions regarding Avastin and its consequent effects on cancer treatments.

Avastin or better known as Bevacuzinmab is an antiangiogenic drug- drugs that reduce the growth of new blood vessels. It is used to treat certain types of brain tumors and different kinds of cancers such as cancers of the colon, kidney, rectum, lung, and breast.

Avastin is usually given as a part of the plethora of cancer medicines provided in treatment.

Let’s get into “All things Avastin”:

Avastin is used alongside chemotherapy during treatment but attacks your cancer from a completely different angle in comparison to chemotherapy.

(the tumors that we are dealing with in this article are implied to be malignant tumors.

Malignant tumors are those tumors that are cancerous in nature).

➔ How it works:

While chemotherapy works to attack the fast-growing cancer cells. Avastin takes up a different approach in that it uses a “tumor-starving” therapy. As we mentioned before, it is an antiangiogenic drug and thus works to reduce the growth of all new blood vessels including those which will go on to provide nutrition to tumors and the cancerous cells.

This also means that there is a reduction in the growth of normal blood vessels.

Avastin is actually designed to prevent the production of a particular protein called VEGF(vascular endothelial growth factor).

Normal cells too make VEGF, but cancerous cells produce this protein in a dangerously high amount. Therefore, Avastin blocks the production of VEGF which further reduces the growth of new blood vessels which include blood vessels that feed the tumor.

Unlike chemotherapy, Avastin works with an aim to block the blood supply that feeds the tumor, thus preventing the growth of the tumor any further.

➔ Does it work on each and every patient? Is it a solution for each case? What is its success rate?

A study showed that people taking Avastin with chemotherapy had better results than people taking chemotherapy alone. It was seen that half of the people taking Avastin lived at least 16.8 months, while the ones taking only chemotherapy only lived at least 12.9 months.

While Avastin does not cure cancer but increases survival time significantly.

Although, a study showed that the drug did not shrink tumors for mCRC (Metastatic Colorectal cancer) patients that took it as a second-line treatment after a first-line treatment that did include the use of Avastin.

However, such results were seen in the case of mCRC patients, but in the case of patients diagnosed with macular degeneration, it showed much more positive results. For almost 80% of the total 133 patients in a study, it was seen that Avastin as a first-line treatment that was efficacious for the majority of the patients.

Patients with recurrent glioblastoma (a form of brain cancer) who were treated with Avastin (bevacizumab) alone experienced a slight survival advantage compared with patients treated with Avastin plus Camptosar (irinotecan).

On November 18, 2011, the US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) announced that breast cancer indication for Avastin (bevacizumab) had been withdrawn after concluding that the drug was not safe and effective for the breast cancer treatment.

Side effects caused by Avastin:

Everyone reacts differently to Avastin therapy. So, it's important to know what the side effects are.

GI perforation. A hole that develops in your stomach or intestine. Symptoms include pain in your abdomen, nausea, vomiting, constipation, or fever

Abnormal passage in the body. This type of passage—known as a fistula—is an irregular connection from one part of the body to another and can sometimes be fatal

Wounds that don't heal. A cut made during surgery can be slow to heal or may not fully heal. Avastin should not be used for at least 28 days before or after surgery and until surgical wounds are fully healed

Serious bleeding. This includes vomiting or coughing up blood; bleeding in the stomach, brain, or spinal cord; nosebleeds; and vaginal bleeding. If you recently coughed up blood or had serious bleeding, be sure to tell your doctor

Severe high blood pressure. Blood pressure that severely spikes or shows signs of affecting the brain. Blood pressure should be monitored every 2 to 3 weeks while on Avastin and after stopping treatment

Kidney problems. These may be caused by too much protein in the urine and can sometimes be fatal

Infusion-related reactions. These were uncommon with the first dose (less than 3% of patients). 0.4% of patients had severe reactions. Infusion-related reactions include high blood pressure or severe high blood pressure that may lead to stroke, trouble breathing, decreased oxygen in red blood cells, a serious allergic reaction, chest pain, headache, tremors, and excessive sweating. Your doctor or nurse will monitor you for signs of infusion-related reactions

Severe stroke or heart problems. These may include blood clots, mini-stroke, heart attack, chest pain, and your heart may become too weak to pump blood to other parts of your body (congestive heart failure). These can sometimes be fatal

Nervous system and vision problems. Signs include headache, seizure, high blood pressure, sluggishness, confusion, and blindness

The most common side effects seen are:

In clinical studies across different types of cancer, some patients experienced the following side effects: High blood pressure, Too much protein in the urine, Nosebleeds, Bleeding, Back pain, Headache, Taste change, Dry skin, Inflammation of the skin, Inflammation of the nose, Watery eyes.

We hope this article provided sufficient knowledge to explain the positive and negative implications of the use of Avastin and fulfilled our promise of briefing you on “ All things Avastin”.



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