Avastin: Not An Answer To Ovarian Cancer?

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Cancer has affected many of the world’s population. It caused physical, emotional and financial burdens to both the patient and the family. Many have also died because of this condition; hence, many studies have been conducted to determine new therapeutic interventions which can possibly aid cancer victims. According to the new studies published in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine, Avastin (a medication that lost approval for breast cancer treatment) also seems to be ineffective in dealing with ovarian cancer. The two studies elucidated that no improvement in the survival rates of many patients was observed. Also, it only prevented their condition from becoming worse for few months and it brought more side effects.

Genentech drug was approved in the previous week in Europe for treatment of advanced ovarian malignancy. However, its manufacturer does not intend yet to apply for approval in the US. According to Charlotte Arnold, Genentech’s spokeswoman and part of the Swiss company Roche, despite not coming up with a final decision yet, they believed that the data about the drug will gain approval.

Avastin’s approval for breast cancer was revoked by FDA last November, since it has severe side effects and is incapable of extending life significantly. Because of this revocation, physicians may prescribe the medication; however, insurers may be allowed not to pay. Therapy using this drug can reach $ 100,000 annually. Furthermore, Avastin can still be marketed for some lung, renal, colon and brain malignancies. Also, the recent study was conducted to include ovarian cancer in the previous list.

Dr. Robert Burger, of Philadelphia’s Fox Chase Cancer Center, initiated a research of 1, 900 females who had advanced ovarian cancer; they received 1 of 3 treatment combinations. An average of 10 months was the time until the condition became worse. Using Avastin exhibited an improvement by only 1 to 4 months in the two groups. Moreover, the survival rates were the same among the women, at the same time, more side effects were noted among those who received Avastin. The side effects, like hypertension, stomach and gut problems, necessitated treatment. Moreover, another investigation by England’s researchers involved 1,500 women with ovarian cancer, who received chemotherapy (with or without Avastin). The medication just halted the condition from worsening about 1-2 months more than using chemo solely, with increased number of having hypertension. Genentech assisted in funding the studies.

Dr. Gary Lyman, a Duke University researcher and one of the FDA advisory panel that suggested the revocation of Avastin as breast cancer treatment, was also in concordance with Genentech’s decision for not seeking approval for ovarian malignancy.

Ovarian cancer is very much prevalent worldwide, with 220,000 new cases and resulted to 140, 000 deaths. In US alone, the 22,000 new case and 15,000 deaths annually were estimated by the National Cancer Institute. This statistics are alarming, which necessitates a definitive and effective action. Discussing these treatment options is one important step in reaching our goal of helping cancer patients.




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