Triple-negative breast cancer refers to those tumors that do not have estrogen or progesterone receptors or express the HER2/neu gene.
The researchers followed the women to see if the Avastin made a difference in disease-free survival. At a median follow-up of 32 months, no significant improvement occurred by adding Avastin.
Among those who received chemo alone, 107 died during the follow-up period, compared with 93 deaths in the group getting chemo plus Avastin, the investigators found.
Those in the Avastin group were more likely than the chemo-alone group to have problems such as severe high blood pressure and congestive heart failure.
The drug is effective in other cancers, Mortimer said. "It's a very important drug for lung, [gastrointestinal] and kidney cancers," she explained.
The drug is still listed in the recommendations for breast cancer treatment by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. The not-for-profit is an alliance of 21 major international cancer centers, including City of Hope.
Health insurers turn to the recommendations when deciding which drugs to cover. Avastin is costly, about $112,000 a year for breast cancer patients.
Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
To learn more about breast cancer, visit the American Cancer Society.
SOURCES: Joanne Mortimer, M.D., director, Women's Cancer Program, City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, Duarte, Calif.; Stephanie Bernik, M.D., chief, surgical oncology, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Cancer Therapy & Research Center-American Association for Cancer Research,
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