Targeted Therapies

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

Advanced ovarian cancer can be treated with a targeted therapy known as Avastin® (also known as bevacizumab).

Avastin helps to stop tumour growth by blocking the development of new blood vessels which cancer cells need to grow and spread. Avastin® is often given in combination with chemotherapy for those with advanced ovarian cancer and can be continued for up to 15 months.

Studies have looked at how well Avastin works for women with ovarian cancer.

A large clinical study found that women with advanced ovarian cancer, who took Avastin in combination with chemotherapy as their first treatment after surgery, remained free of their disease (their tumours did not grow or spread) for longer, compared with patients who received only chemotherapy.²

Another large study was also undertaken in women with ovarian cancer whose disease persisted and did not respond to platinum containing chemotherapy (known as recurrent, platinum-resistant disease) ³. The results of this study showed that women who were given Avastin together chemotherapy remained free of their disease for longer, compared to women who received only chemotherapy.

However, Avastin has not been shown to improve overall survival (the length of time you live) in women with advanced ovarian cancer or recurrent platinum-resistant ovarian cancer.

Avastin is not publicly funded in New Zealand for women with advanced or platinum-resistant ovarian cancer so you will 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.

All medicines can have side effects. Sometimes they are serious, most of the time they are not.

Find out more about Avastin, including how it works, side-effects, and costs 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. Burger RA, et al. N Engl J Med 2011:365:2473-2483
  3. Pujade-Lauraine E, et al. J Clin Oncol 2014:32:1302 - 130