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Avastin added to chemotherapy prolongs survival


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Avastin added to chemotherapy prolongs survival in advanced lung cancer

Karla Gale

Reuters Health

Posting Date: March 15, 2005

Last Updated: 2005-03-15 13:11:28 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - In patients with nonsquamous, non-small-cell lung cancer, treatment with Genentech's Avastin (bevacizumab) in addition to standard chemotherapy of paclitaxel and carboplatin prolongs survival by about 20%, according to new research results. "This is really the first advance in the treatment of metastatic non-small-cell cancer since the mid-1990s," said lead researcher Dr. Alan B. Sandler.

Avastin is a humanized monoclonal antibody that targets vascular endothelial growth factor.

According to a press release from the National Cancer Institute, the study's funder, 878 patients with advanced non-squamous, non-small cell lung cancer participated in the phase II/III study. Patients were randomized to receive standard treatment -- six cycles of paclitaxel and carboplatin -- or standard chemotherapy plus bevacizumab, which was continued until disease progression was observed.

Dr. Sandler, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, told Reuters Health that the study cohort included patients with stage IIIb disease with malignant pleural effusion or stage IV metastatic disease who had never received prior chemotherapy.

The study was terminated early when it met its primary endpoint of improving overall survival -- median 12.5 months in the Avastin group versus 10.2 months in the control group -- a statistically significant difference.

Though small, this improvement was "clinically significant" as well, Dr. Sandler said, matching the degree of improvement previously observed in lung cancer studies where newer chemotherapy combinations were being established.

"The key was that we used a targeted agent to work with chemotherapy, and that is pretty exciting," he added.

He predicts that in future studies in patients with earlier stage lung cancer, "there is even a potential for cure."

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