Targeted Therapies

Advances in cancer treatment have seen the development of targeted therapies which are medicines that specifically identify and attack cancer cells without usually damaging normal cells. They can be an effective form of treatment for many cancers.

Certain types of metastatic or advanced bowel cancer can be treated with a targeted therapy known as Avastin (also known as bevacizumab).

Avastin works by stopping the development of new blood vessels which cancer cells need to grow and spread. This starves the tumour of the blood it needs to grow.

Studies have shown that when Avastin and chemotherapy are given to patients with advanced bowel cancer, it improves the length of time that a patient’s cancer stops growing or spreading, compared with those who received only chemotherapy.2-5

Other studies have shown that patients treated with Avastin may also live longer than those treated with chemotherapy alone.2,3,5

Avastin is not publicly funded in New Zealand so you would have to pay for this medicine. Avastin is not suitable for everyone, so you’ll need to speak to your doctor about whether it’s right for you.

Find out more about Avastin, including its benefits, its side-effects and the cost here.


Avastin (bevacizumab), 100 mg/4mL and 400 mg/16 mL vials, is a Prescription Medicine used to treat metastatic (spreading) colorectal, kidney, breast, brain, lung, ovarian and cervical cancers. Avastin has risks and benefits. Ask your oncologist if Avastin is right for you. Use strictly as directed. If symptoms continue or you have side effects, see your healthcare professional. For further information on Avastin, please talk to your health professional or visit www.medsafe.govt.nz for Avastin Consumer Medicine Information. Avastin is not funded by PHARMAC. You will need to pay the full cost of this medicine. A prescription charge and normal oncologist fees may apply.

References:

  1. Ministry of Health. 2015. Cancer: New registrations and deaths 2012. Wellington: Ministry of Health. Available from: http://www.health.govt.nz/publication/cancer-new-registrations-and-deaths-2012. Accessed February 2016.
  2. Hurwitz H, et al. N Engl J Med 2004;350:2335-2342 (OS & PFS)
  3. Giantonio BJ, et al. J Clin Oncol 2007;29:1539-1544 (OS & PFS)
  4. Saltz LB, et al. J Clin Oncol 2008;26:2013-2019
  5. Bennouna J, et al. Lancet Oncol 2013;14:29-37