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 cervical 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 has been studied in women with advanced cervical cancer. A clinical study found that women with advanced cervical cancer who took Avastin together with chemotherapy improved the length of time that they were free of their disease compared with those on chemotherapy alone (8.2 months compared with 5.9 months). Women who received Avastin also lived longer on average than women receiving chemotherapy alone (17 months versus 13.3.months).5
Avastin is not publicly funded in New Zealand for women with advanced cervical cancer so you would have to pay for it yourself.
Avastin is not suitable for everyone. Speak to your doctor about whether Avastin is a suitable treatment for you.
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.
- Cancer Society of New Zealand. Cervical Cancer. Available from https://auckland-northland.cancernz.org.nz/en/cancer-information/cancer-types/cervical-cancer/. Accessed February 2016.
- Ministry of Health. Cervical Cancer. Available from: http://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/conditions-and-treatments/diseases-and-illnesses/cervical-cancer. Accessed February 2016.
- 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.
- Lewis H, et al. N Z Med J 2009;122:15-25
- Tewari KS, et al. N Engl J med 2014;370:734-743