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Avastin Won't Extend Breast Cancer Survival: Study
Date:12/7/2012

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- The drug Avastin (bevacizumab), when added to chemotherapy, does not improve disease-free survival in patients with triple-negative breast cancer any better than chemo alone, new research finds.

"Therefore, sadly for patients, we have nothing extra to add to chemotherapy for early, triple-negative breast cancer," Dr. David Cameron, a professor of oncology at Edinburgh University in Scotland, said in a news release from the American Association for Cancer Research.

He was scheduled to present the findings Friday at the 2012 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

Previous studies of Avastin had found benefit. However, in 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration revoked approval of the drug for late-stage breast cancer, citing risks -- such as heart failure and severe high blood pressure -- that outweigh the benefits. The drug may still be used off-label, with doctors prescribing it to patients if they think that patient could be helped.

This new study signals the death of the drug for breast cancer, although it is helpful in other cancers, said Dr. Joanne Mortimer, director of Women's Cancer Programs for the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in Duarte, Calif. She reviewed the new findings.

Another physician took a different view, saying others should consider continuing research on the drug. "We have all seen some success stories with the drug, and Avastin may be a drug that works in only a select few," said Dr. Stephanie Bernik, chief of surgical oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Avastin is marketed by Genentech. Swiss drugmaker Hoffmann-La Roche, which acquired Genentech, sponsored the study.

For the new study, researchers randomly assigned nearly 2,600 patients with triple-negative operable primary invasive breast cancer to four or more cycles of chemotherapy. They used either an anthracyclin
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