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 advanced brain 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.

Avastin is often used to treat patients with a specific type of brain cancer called recurrent glioblastoma (GBM).

A study has found that in some people with recurrent glioblastoma Avastin appears to slow tumour regrowth. Avastin also allowed some patients taking corticosteroids, (a type of medicine to reduce swelling and pressure in the brain) to reduce their dose or keep their dose stable.2

Avastin is not publicly funded which means you will have to pay for this medication. Avastin is not right for everyone. You will need to talk to your doctor about whether it’s right for you.

Find out more about Avastin, 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. Friedman HS, et al. J Clin Oncol 2009;27:4733-4740