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Avastin May Help Some With Ovarian Cancer: Studies
Date:12/29/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Two new studies suggest that the drug Avastin may lengthen progression-free survival by about four months for women with ovarian cancer.

What isn't clear yet is whether adding Avastin (bevacizumab) will make a difference in overall survival. One study suggested it would, while the other study didn't find a difference in overall survival between two treatment groups.

"The bottom-line results are a 28 percent reduction in disease progression with patients on continued bevacizumab compared to the standard treatment group. There was a 3.8 month median difference in progression-free survival," said Dr. Robert Burger, author of one of the studies and director of the Women's Cancer Center at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.

"We still have to fine-tune or optimize this sort of new paradigm of treatment. This regimen [chemotherapy plus continued Avastin] could be considered a frontline option for patients with advanced ovarian cancer. However, there are some risks to the treatment, and we haven't shown an impact on overall survival. But, in the European trial, they saw an overall survival benefit," Burger added.

"I think the difficult reality is that these studies are not clear-cut," said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society. "The improvements in progression are modest and appear to be greater for women who have worse disease. What this ultimately means is that it's absolutely important for doctors treating women with advanced ovarian cancer to read these studies very carefully so they know who may benefit and the risks of treatment, and to counsel their patients very carefully before moving forward with Avastin treatment," Lichtenfeld explained.

"This is not a case where treatment can be initiated in every woman. The benefits for many women are modest at best," he added.

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