TUESDAY, July 20 (HealthDay News) -- The cancer drug Avastin, when used in combination with standard chemotherapy, is safe and can effectively treat an advanced form of one of the most common lung cancers, researchers report.
Previously it had been thought that this combination might have serious adverse side effects, including life-threatening bleeding, for patients with non-squamous non-small-cell lung tumors. However, this phase 4 trial, which used Avastin (bevacizumab) plus chemotherapy in a large population found these problems were minimal.
Phase 4 trials are done after a drug is on the market, to look for any new problems.
"Today we have a new option to treat non-squamous lung cancer, incorporating Avastin in chemotherapy regimens and in maintenance therapy," said lead researcher Dr. Lucio Crino, director of medical oncology at S. Maria della Misericordia Hospital in Perugia, Italy.
"The practical implication is the possibility to incorporate Avastin with any chemotherapy regimen in the frontline therapy of metastatic non-squamous lung cancer," he added.
The report, which is funded by the maker of Avastin, F Hoffman-La Roche Ltd., is published in the July 20 issue of The Lancet Oncology. The funder was involved in study design, coordination of data collection, data analysis, data interpretation, and writing of the report, the journal noted.
Advanced non-small-cell lung cancer is a common cancer that kills 1.18 million people every year worldwide, according to background information in the study. Avastin is a so-called monoclonal antibody that works by blocking vascular endothelial growth factor A, which stimulates the growth of the tumor's blood supply.
When used as an adjunct to chemotherapy, Avastin had already shown cancer-fighting activity in two phase 3 trials, the researchers noted.
For the study, Crino's team studied Avasti
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